Russia's transportation system is extensive, but is in a state of general decay. Maintenance, modernization, and expansion are required for Russia's infrastructure, much of which operates beyond capacity.
Railroads have long been an important means of transportation in Russia. In the 1890s, a vast state-sponsored program of railway construction commenced, with the goal of nurturing private enterprise, exploiting natural resources, and expanding heavy industry (especially metallurgy and mineral fuels). The Trans-Siberian Railroad was the cornerstone of this development; from 1898-1901, more than 3,000 km (1,900 mi) of track were constructed per year. Railroad development also figured prominently during the Soviet era. Railways in 2001 extended some 87,157 km (54,160 mi), primarily with 1.52 m-gauge track.
There were 952,000 km (591,573 mi) of highways in 2002, of which 752,000 km (467,293 mi) were paved. Compared with other developed countries, Russia has few passenger cars on the road, but many imports from Europe are increasingly arriving in Russia. Russia's ratio of population per car is more than six times that of Western Europe.
Marine access has been important to Russia ever since the construction of St. Petersburg was ordered by Peter the Great on the marshland adjoining the Gulf of Finland, in order to provide imperial Russia with a "window on the west." Other important maritime ports include Kaliningrad, on the Baltic Sea; Murmansk and Arkhangel'sk, both on the Barents Sea; Novorossiysk, on the Black Sea; Vladivostok and Nakhodka, both on the Sea of Japan / East Sea; Tiksi on the Laptev Sea; and Magadan and Korsakov on the Sea of Okhotsk (the latter is on Sakhalin). Major inland ports include Nizhniy Novgorod, Kazan', Khabarovsk, Krasnoyarsk, Samara, Moscow, Rostov, and Volgograd. The merchant fleet consisted in 2002 of 888 ships (of 1,000 GRT or over), totaling 4,390,745 GRT (5,357,436 DWT). Almost three-fifths of the merchant fleet consists of cargo vessels. Early in the 21st century, a new port is scheduled to be built in the Batareynaya Harbor of the Baltic Sea about 70 km (43 mi) southwest of St. Petersburg. The new facility will handle oil shipments.
In 2001, Russia had 2,743 airports and airfields, 471 of which had paved runways. Principal airports include Novy at Khabarovsk, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo at Moskva, Tolmachevo at Novosibirsk, Rostov-Na-Donu, Pulkovo at St. Petersburg, Adler at Sochi, and Yekaterinburg at Coltsovo. In 2001, 20,235,100 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.