Seventy-nine kilometres out of Tomsk is the junction where the branch line we are on rejoins the main east-west route. In a classic piece of short sighted lobbying the Tomsk city administrators of the time wanted to protect their own transportation monopolies and so got bypassed by the railway. Then their town got bypassed by progress. Thick taiga surrounds us as we cover in a couple of hours what took a year to construct.
At the obviously named Tayga we are only a couple of hundred kilometers away from the halfway point between Moscow and Beijing. This train is almost perfectly timed, leaving in the late evening and by crossing yet another time zone, thus gaining an hour, we should arrive in Krasnoyarsk just before lunch. The published arrival times are actually quite reliable as the drivers get bonuses for pulling into the stations at the advertised time. A side effect of this can be long periods in the middle of the night where the train is stationary so as not to get too far ahead of schedule.
The whole time zone thing has become quite confusing. All schedules are on Moscow time and so you are constantly adding and subtracting hours to work out when you actually are. For example the printed arrival time to Novosibirsk was 3am which would be a terrible time but when three hours get added to this it actually works nicely.
Tomsk was a bit confusing however as it was not particularly clear which time zone we were in. According to all our maps and the inside the station clock it was four hours ahead of the capital. But on the main clock it was still the three that Novosibirsk had been. In the end it hardly mattered. We had been checked out of the hotel since midday anyway and had spent most of the afternoon just hanging out waiting for the departure time to roll around. Getting there early also allowed me to run across to the supermarket next to the station and restock our supplies and grab a couple of mystery pastries for dinner. One meat one cheese. [read on]