Ukraine has bitterly cold winters, so keeping snow off the railway tracks is a big job.
During the winter of 2013-14 the Ukrainian Railways (Укрзалізниця) deployed a veritable army into fighting massive snowdrifts:
The State Administration of Ukraine (Ukrzaliznytsia) over the past 24 hours employed 13,000 railway workers in clearing snow from track.
The deepest blanket of snow was seen at Volnovakha station (37 centimeters), Amvrosiyivka (33 centimeters) of Donetsk railways, Zhmerynka (30 centimeters) of Pivdenno-Zakhidna railways, Piatykhatky (30 centimeters) of Prydniprovska railways, Pomoshna (32 centimeters) and Znamianka (30 centimeters) of Odesa railways.
Snow was removed from a total of 446 approaching roads at stations and 26,774 switches.
The reason for the massive workforce is that tracks at stations needed to be cleared by hand, including sidings and yards.
And especially around pointwork.
If there isn’t any space beside the tracks to dump the snow it has to be loaded into wagons.
Which can then be dumped elsewhere.
Standing on the tracks while an express train goes flying past is a bad idea, so there is a lot of waiting around.
Resulting in the classic ‘leaning on a shovel’ pose.
Other than manual labour, the Ukrainian Railways also operate a fleet of snow plows and other mechanised snow removal equipment.
I didn’t see any in use during my visit, but during a particularly stormy period of January 2014 they were hard at work.
Over the past 24 hours 13 snow removing cars have been operating. The cars performed 27 trips and removed 9,450 cubic meters of snow.
A total of 57 approaching tracks at stations and 6,325 railways points were cleared of snow. A total of 6,662 workers were involved.
A total of 124 units of snow removing machinery, 105 units of snow collection machinery and 218 machines to remove ice have been prepared by Ukrzaliznytsia for operations in winter.