Registration plates on Russian trucks and vans

During my time in Russia I noticed something curious – trucks and vans always had their registration plate number repeated in big letters on the rear of the vehicle.

Registration plate details repeated on the back of Russian trucks

I saw them on the back of big dump trucks.

Dump truck carting away a load of snow

As well as small vans.

Russian vans and trucks often have their registration plate repeated in big letters on the rear of the vehicle for easier identification

But this stuck truck didn’t.

This is one stuck truck - with leaking fuel to boot!

Turns out repeating the registration plate number on the rear was once a government requirement – from Russian Wikipedia:

Until July 1, 2008, the registration plate issued to a truck or bus should have been duplicated on the back of the vehicle in large print. Since July 1, 2008, this requirement has been cancelled.

The original wording of the ПДД (Rules of the Road Traffic) dated October 23, 1993 was:

On motor vehicles (except trams and trolley-buses) and trailers, registration plates of the appropriate model must be installed in the places provided for this purpose, and in cars and buses.

In addition, a receipt for the state technical inspection is placed in the lower right corner of the windscreen.

The numbers and letters of the registration plates must be repeated on the back of the bodies of trucks, trailers (except for trailers for cars and motorcycles) and buses (except for very small ones). The height of the digits is not less than 300 mm, the width is not less than 120 mm, the thickness of the stroke is 30 mm, the size of the letters is 2/3 of the size of the digits.

The trams and trolley-buses are marked with registration numbers assigned by the relevant departments.


Russian seller of rear registration number stickers.

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Fire-fighting trains of the Russian Railways

Russia’s rail network stretches the length of the country, from cities to mountainous forests. Fires can happen anywhere – even in the middle of nowhere – so the Russian Railways have their own fleet of fire-fighting trains, to put out the flames anywhere conventional fire trucks can’t reach.

Photo by Сергеев Павел, via Wikimedia Commons

The trains are painted red with white stripes, and stabled at major railway stations – a maximum of 80 kilometres apart on class 1 mainline railways, up to a maximum of 160 kilometres apart of class 5 branch lines.

Since 2005, they have liquidated almost 10.5 thousand fires, rescued 462 people. From the destruction 96 locomotives, 684 cars and tanks with cargoes, 392 units of tractor equipment, as well as almost 1337 buildings and structures worth about 2 billion rubles were saved.

Each train has a full time crew of 6 fire-fighters, but additional staff are available to respond to incidents:

  • railway police serving at the station on which the fire train is stationed;
  • off-duty fire train crew living near the train station;
  • volunteer fire brigades members;
  • as well as employees of Russian Railways.

Each train also has a ground facility at the home station to provide:

  • educational and administrative facilities (training class, base or post of GDZS, heat-chamber, etc.);
  • training rooms (a band of psychological training firefighters, a 100-meter obstacle course and a training tower);
  • workshops (for cleaning and drying fire hoses, a workshop for maintenance and repair of fire and special rescue equipment, a point of charging fire extinguishers);
  • sanitary and domestic facilities (for rest and food, for drying special and combat clothing, shower, toilet, restorative complex, etc.);
  • warehouse (for storage of fire and special rescue equipment, fire extinguishing agents, fuel and lubricants).

Fire-fighting trains are divided into two categories:

  • Category 1 specialised: equipped for the removal of dangerous goods from accident scenes
  • Category 2: general fire-fighting only

Over 300 fire-fighting trains are posted around the Russian Railways network, with around 80 of them being specialised category 1 trains.

A typical fire train consists of:

  1. Pump wagon (ВНС) to house personnel, fire pump, power generator, fire extinguishers, breathing apparatus, and other fire extinguishing equipment;
  2. tank wagon (ЦВ) for storage of water, 60m³ – 73m³ volume
  3. tank wagon (ЦВ)

Category 1 trains also have an extra wagon for the accommodation of additional fire-fighting and rescue equipment, fire suppressants, and other materials; and pumps to transfer dangerous goods from damaged tank wagons.

To prevent the water from freezing in the tanks, pipe coils are installed, along which hot water from the boiler circulates.

Each pump wagon is equipped with two fixed СПУ-40/100M pumps, with a flow rate of 50 l/s. This allows each fire train to supply 15,000 m³ of foam, to attend to flammable and combustible liquid spills up to 1000 square meters, or to supply a standard fire hose with water for 40 minutes.

Further viewing

A quick look at a fire train at work.

And a detailed tour of a modern Russian Railways fire train.

Sources (all Russian language)

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Tram stops in Russia

Tram tracks are quite obvious when they run down the street, but in Russia finding a tram stop can be a tad tricky.

Moscow tram #2095 passes another tram on the reserved track outside VDNH

Where the tram tracks are separated from road traffic, they aren’t too hard to find.

Picking up passengers at Komsomolskaya Square, Moscow tram #4325 on route 50

But this tram stop on a Moscow street disappeared among the three lanes of traffic.

Intending tram passengers cross three lanes of traffic: Moscow tram #1269 on route 3

I had the same trouble out in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg.

ЛМ-2008 tram number 1410 drops off passengers on route 45

With passengers having to walk out into traffic.

Dropping off tram passengers in the middle of a bust Saint Petersburg street

As well as on the narrower streets of Nizhny Novgorod.

Stopping for a tram passenger in Nizhny Novgorod

In some cases signage at the kerb indicated the location of tram stop.

Ready to depart a kerbside tram stop

But at other stops intending passengers have to look up to see the signs.

Middle of the road tram stops in suburban Saint Petersburg

In addition, timetable information wasn’t easy to come by.

Tram and trolleybus stop signs hang from overhead wires

The signs in the above example are from Nizhny Novgorod, with the stating the route number and operating hours – blue sign with ‘ТБ’ for trolleybuses, yellow signs and ‘TP’ for trams.

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Interchange stations on Soviet metro systems

Interchange stations on Soviet designed metro systems are a little odd for anyone accustomed to urban rail networks elsewhere in the world – the platforms for each line are treated as their own station, with their own street entrance, and their own name!

Moscow Metro

On the Moscow Metro the most complicated station is the four way interchange between lines 1, 3, 4 and 9.

Replica of the Moscow Metro's first train arrives into Библиотека имени Ленина (Biblioteka Imeni Lenina)

Here the platforms on each of the four lines has a separate name:

  • Line 1 / Biblioteka Imeni Lenina
  • Line 3 / Arbatskaya
  • Line 4 / Aleksandrovsky Sad
  • Line 9 / Borovitskaya

And just to make this station complex even more confusing, there is no direct path between Borovitskaya and Aleksandrovsky Sad – passengers have to travel via one of the two other stations to interchange.

The same practice of uniquely naming each pair of platforms is repeated at other interchange locations across Moscow, such as the three way transfers at:

  • Pushkinskaya, Chekhovskaya, Tverskaya
  • Turgenevskaya, Chistye Prudy, Sretensky Bulvar
  • Okhotny Ryad, Teatralnaya, Ploshchad Revolyutsii

As well as some of the two way interchanges:

  • Dobryninskaya, Serpukhovskaya
  • Sevastopolskay, Kakhovskaya
  • Krestyanskaya Zastava, Proletarskaya

But just to confuse matters, some two way interchange stations have a common name on both lines.

  • Prospekt Mira
  • Belorusskaya
  • Park Kultury
  • Oktyabrskaya
  • Paveletskaya

There are also some oddities where the platforms for two lines are named as one station, while the platforms for a third line have a different name:

  • Marksistskaya and Taganskaya (x2)
  • Chkalovskaya and Kurskaya (x2)
  • Novokuznetskaya and Tretyakovskaya (x2)

Then there is the station at Kiyevskaya – which serves has three lines but has a single name!

Saint Petersburg Metro

The naming conventions for interchange stations on the Saint Petersburg Metro are far more consistent.

Cross platform interchange between Line 1 and 2 at Tekhnologichesky Institut (Технологи́ческий институ́т)

The platforms for each line are always given their own name, with only two exceptions:

  • Ploshchad Alexandra Nevskogo – the line 3 platforms are called ‘Ploshchad Alexandra Nevskogo I’ while those on line 4 are called ‘Ploshchad Alexandra Nevskogo II’.
  • Tekhnologichesky Institut – a cross platform interchange is provided between line 1 and 2.

Kiev Metro

The Kiev Metro is a lot simpler to understand.

Zhytomyrska (Житомирська) station and waiting passengers

There are three transfer stations, each serving two lines, with each platform having a separate name.

  • Zoloti Vorota / Teatralna (Green Line – Red Line)
  • Maidan Nezalezhnosti / Khreschatyk (Blue Line – Red Line)
  • Palats Sportu / Ploshcha Lva Tolstoho (Green Line – Blue Line)

Why separate names?

The use of separate names for each line starts to make sense when you look at the standard design of Soviet metro stations – two tracks, an island platform in the middle, and a single escalator incline leading to the surface.

Sviatoshyn (Святошин) station on the Kiev Metro

While simple, this design was quite limiting if the station needed to be expanded into interchange facility, so instead a second parallel station would be built alongside for the new line, with underground walkways provided so that passengers can move between the two platforms.

Transfer corridor on the Saint Petersburg Metro

These passageways are usually located one level above the station platforms, linked with stairs passing over the train tracks.

Interchange walkways between the two station halls

The number of staircases between platform and passageway varies.

Interchange passageways between lines 6, 8 and 2 at Третьяковская (Tretyakovskaya)

But in all cases, a footbridge is required to carry passengers over the tracks.

Train streaks out of the platform

Another way to link interchange passageways with trains is via a staircase in the middle of the platform.

Intricately carved granite walls line the platform tunnel

Again, the width of the staircase can vary.

Staircase leads down from the Line 5 platform down to the interchange passageway for lines 2 and 4

With some busier stations having escalators to move the crowds.

Escalators lead down to the interchange passageway

But no matter which way the stairs go, there are always transfer corridors.

Still walking down the corridor towards Mayakovskaya (Маяко́вская) station on Line 3

They often curve along the way.

Yet another transfer corridor between lines of the Saint Petersburg Metro

Along with changes in grade.

Still walking along the interchange passageway

But keep going and going.

Long underground walkway linking the two metro lines

Until they eventually emerge at a railway station with a different name.

Arriving at Nevsky Prospekt (Не́вский проспе́кт) station on Line 2 via the transfer corridor from Line 3

Cross platform interchanges

Cross-platform interchanges are a much more passenger friendly way of facilitating these movements, but are rare in Russia – Tekhnologichesky Institut on the Saint Petersburg Metro was the first in 1963.

There are six examples on the Moscow Metro:

  • Kitay-gorod, between Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya and Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya lines.
  • Tretyakovskaya, between Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya and Kalininsko-Solntsevskaya lines.
  • Kuntsevskaya, between westbound Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line platform and termination platform of Filyovskaya line.
  • Kashirskaya, between Zamoskvoretskaya and Kakhovskaya lines.
  • Park Pobedy, between Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya and Kalininsko-Solntsevskaya lines
  • Petrovsko-Razumovskaya, between Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya and Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya lines.

While the Nizhny Novgorod Metro has a unique arrangement – two island platforms located a single cavern, allowing passengers to change between lines 1 and 2, with a footbridge in the middle also allows for them to change direction.

Looking down from the footbridge at Московская (Moskovskaya)

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Inspecting the overhead wires on the Ukrainian Railways

As I travelled across Ukraine by train I noticed a few complicated looking contraptions parked in sidings along the way.

Ukrainian Railways track machine for accessing the overhead wires

With a small platform at the end of a scissor lift, these railcars are used to inspect and repair the overhead wires that power electric trains.

Ukrainian Railways 'АДМ-1215' class overhead line inspection vehicle

Here is a video of one such unit headed along the main line.

And the data sheet for a model 1АДМ-1.3 overhead inspection rail car.

The isolated work platform of the 1АДМ-1.3 rail car allows staff to work on the contact wires shutting down traction power.

Intended for:
– execution of installation, repair, emergency and recovery works of the contact network on electrified railways at 3.3 kV DC and 27.5 kV AC;
– transportation of wagons with various cargoes;
– power supply to consumers in the field;
– shunting work and transportation of workers’ brigades.

The railcar is a self-propelled two axle vehicle. On the front platform is a passenger cabin with a crane. On the rear platform – power plant and installation site.

The telescopic crane performs installation and dismantling of the contact system supports, loading and unloading of various cargoes.

The presence of cradles on the crane allows for the installation, repair and emergency-recovery work of the contact network on the adjacent track in the absence of power.

YaMZ-238 B-33 diesel engine


Power plant:
220kW (300hp)

Carrying capacity of platform:
4.5 tonnes

Maximum speed
100 km / h

Trailer load max. in shunting mode
300 tonne

trailer load max. in train mode
60 tonne

Passenger capacity

Total weight
35.5 tonnes


Despite the availability of overhead line inspection vehicles, sometimes staff still do things the low tech way – take a long ladder on a wheeled platform, and roll it along the tracks!

Railway staff inspect the overhead wires

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Animal themed trains of Europe

Trains named for cute animals – during my time in Europe, I found two rail operators who did just that.

Double decked CityShuttle 'Wiesel' train operated by ÖBB departs the station with the loco on the rear

The first was the weasel on the side of ÖBB ‘CityShuttle’ trains in Vienna, Austria. From German language Wikipedia:

The ÖBB Nahverkehrs-Doppelstockwagen (commuter double-deck cars) are a double-decker commuter carriages were built in 1995 and are the backbone of transport in the eastern region of Austria. The province of Lower Austria decided to provide the ÖBB with financial support for the purchase of the first series of double-carriages. In return all vehicles of this series were equipped with a “weasel” logo.

'Wiesel' logo on a ÖBB double deck commuter carriage
Photo by ÖBB399, via Wikimedia Commons

While I found a dog on the side of a train south of Moscow, Russia.

«рэкс» (Rex) train stabled in the yard at Домодедово (Domodedovo)

From Russian language Wikipedia:

«рэкс» (REX: Region Express) is a company operating commuter express trains in the Moscow Region, established by the Central Suburban Passenger Company and Aeroexpress in 2011.

And from a article on rail operator Aeroexpress (Russian language):

The high-speed trains had a logo – a dog, as well as a corporate colour – blue. According to the designers, a new visual solution will allow the brand to break away from the stereotype of “green elektrichka” (electric trains).

Photo via

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Germany’s one woman freight railway

Across Germany there are many small rail freight operators, but there are none smaller than ‘Rail 4U’ – a one-woman operation founded by Barbara Pirch in 2001.

Photo by Rail 4U

In 2013 public broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk covered her railway company (via Google Translate):

It is a lonely ride over rails with a steel monster, an old electric locomotive 194, built in 1954 – run by a woman. Barbara Pirch serves the locomotive with maximum physical performance. “Nothing is automatic here, everything runs manually.” Barbara Pirch from Willich near Düsseldorf owns Germany’s smallest railway company and is an absolute rarity here. With its two old electric locomotives, it transports freight wagons. It drives so-called ad hoc assignments for its customers throughout Germany, transporting cars, diesel, wood, gases or coal.

Your life is one on call, without comfort and planning security. Rarely does she know what the day brings. She sees no reason to deny the old locomotives just because they are old. The 46-year-old, who used to be a locomotive driver for the Deutsche Bundesbahn, bought her two locomotives in 2008. “This is real manual work and not a comparison to the modern ICE,” says the trained fitter, who repairs the locomotives herself. “The old electric locomotives are technically simple reliable and a modern locomotive would not irritate me”.

Their locomotives from the Reichsbahn period also make the hearts of many railway enthusiasts beat faster – but romanticism has less to do with their operations, says Pirch. “It’s a tough business on the rail and there is a big competition in freight transport.” It is true that freight transport by truck is still on the road, but it also grew by 5.4 percent in the German rail network in 2011. Since 1994, the rail network has also been open to private companies, with around 7,000 locomotives in operation in Germany, and currently some 400 railway companies exist.

Spiegel TV has also interviewed Barbara.

The company has two Deutsche Reichsbahn Class E 94 heavy electric freight locomotives – 194 158 and 194 178.

194 178-0 von Rail 4U mit einem Güterzug auf der Dillstrecke bei Sinn. (photo by Johannes Martin Conrad)
Photo by Johannes Martin Conrad, via Wikimedia Commons

  • 194 158 was built in 1944. In 1998 the locomotive was acquired by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Historische Eisenbahnfahrzeuge eV railway preservation group, then purchased by Rail 4U in 2001. 90 km/h top speed, 3090 kW power output
  • 194 580 was built in 1955 and has been in use since 2010 for Rail 4U. It was painted in the former blue / beige livery of the Deutsche Bundesbahn and received the operating number of 194 178, the only original painted in this colour variant, nicknamed “Blue Mauritius”. It has been out of service since June 2013 due accident damage. 100 km/h top speed, 4440 kW power output

Between 1992 and 2008 Barbara also owned DB Class V200.1 diesel locomotive 221 135.

Sources (all German language)

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Funding Russia’s suburban commuter train routes

I’ve written about the three tiers of Russian rail service before – and today I am looking at the middle tier of suburban trains. Known as электри́чка (Elektrichka), they run along tracks shared with freight and long distance passenger services, and stop at all stations along the way. Reliant on government funding to run, recent funding cutbacks have seen the withdrawal of these services to many remote villages, stranding residents.

Class ЭР2Т (ER2T) electric multiple unit ЭР2Т-7129 departs for central Moscow

Elektrichka services have a long history in the former Soviet Union, running out of big cities such as Moscow to nearby commuter towns and neighbouring satellite cities, as well as linking other smaller destinations, on journeys up to a few hours in duration.

електри́чка (suburban electrical multiple unit) train outside the city of Ясинувата (Yasynuvata)

As well as stopping at major stations served by long distance trains, elektrichkas also stop at simple platforms in isolated areas known as “stopping places” (Russian: Остановочный пункт). Often shorter than the length of the train and located, these platforms often lack permanent staff or lighting.

Railway halt at Сосонка, Ukraine

In 2016 Russia Beyond the Headlines, a part of the State owned newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, published a piece on the funding crisis facing suburban services.

Suburban lines axed as local governments hit with new subsidy burden
Nikolai Shevchenko
November 5, 2016

Russia’s vast distances put demands on transport links unknown in many other parts of the world, giving railways unprecedented importance.

But rail links are costly to build and maintain. In 2014, the federal government transferred the burden of subsidizing suburban trains to local authorities or cut services. Deprived of essential links, many local people took direct action, barricading lines to stop other services running and triggering nationwide headlines. In a remote Siberian village in the Lake Baikal region, Russia’s Trans-Siberian service came under threat as residents staged protests aimed at restoring local services. Many of these disputes were resolved, but the challenge to local rail services in Russia remains.

Unconditional obligation

The current conflict over regional rail links, which have long been regarded as a transport network vital to national cohesion, is rooted in a complex system of financial and management relations.

Suburban trains, as well as all other passenger trains in Russia, belong to Russian Railways (RZD), which is one of the largest transport companies in the world and the biggest in Russia. RZD has the responsibility of operating suburban railway lines despite their unprofitability. The financial losses suffered by suburban electric services are the result of a federal policy that caps fares nationwide, keeping down prices for commuters across the country. Russian Railways has long been compensated from central government coffers for the losses that accrue.

In 2014, however, the federal government passed a law transferring the obligation to compensate Russian Railways to local governments, which effectively switched the financial burden from Moscow to the regions. From that moment on, thousands of people throughout Russia faced a threat to what for many was their only available means of transport. Lacking resources to subsidize the railway operator on the level set by Moscow, regional governments sought to cut costly routes.

Railway wars

“Since the beginning of this year [2014], 150 commuter train routes have been cut. Most often these places lack even country roads and whole villages cease to exist along with the electric trains,” wrote Novaya Gazeta correspondent Yelena Racheva in March 2014, after she had spent a week in Dolzhitsy, a remote village in the Pskov Region, which had been cut off from all the other settlements in the region.

The situation has only worsened since then. In 2015 Russian Railways planned to cut a further 300 commuter trains in a total of 39 regions, according to a report by RBK. Regional governments supported the decision, attempting to replace the trains with bus routes. The federal government intervened in 2015 and the closed routes were reopened. However, the future of suburban lines remains unclear.

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Shower and laundry trains for the Russian army

Sitting, dining and sleeping carriages are a common sight around the world. But in Russia the army operates a special type of train – the банно-прачечный дезинфекционный поезд (БПДП). Translated to English, that is the “bath and laundry disinfection train” or “bath on wheels”.

Photo from Russian newspaper Вечерняя Москва (Vechernyaya Moskva)

The first “bath on wheels” was deployed to the railways of Russia in 1904, with 38 such trains in service by the time of the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War. A handful of bath trains remained in service throughout the Cold War and survived the demise of the USSR, being deployed to Chechnya in 1994, as well as the Second Chechen War in 1999, still with steam locomotives in tow to provide the hot water!

Work to build a modern bath train commenced in the early 2000s at the Tver Carriage Works, entering service in late 2005 – the steam locomotive retired, with a diesel boiler to provide an autonomous source of steam.

Photo via the Tver Carriage Works website

The ВПД «вагон помывочно-дезинфекционный» (washing disinfection carriage) features showers, a change room, medical room, and even a hairdresser!


1 – ventilation unit
2 – shelf
3 – hanger
4 – locker
5 – water supply network
6 – steam boiler
7 – condenser tank
8 – vestibule
9 – hairdresser 10 – heating network
11 – cloakroom
12 – disinfection room
13 – shower room
14 – panel
15 – boiler room
16 – cleaning equipment
17 – cloakroom
18 – boiler

Technical characteristics of the car

Tare weight of the car
56.5 tonnes


Maximum speed
120 km / h

Self-contained steam supply
(Steam boiler on diesel fuel with a capacity of 500 kg steam per hour)

Number of places in the shower room and changing rooms: 15

Number of hairdressers: 1

While the ВП «вагон-прачечная» (laundry carriage) contains the equipment for washing, drying and ironing an army’s uniforms.


1 – ventilation unit
2 – exhaust fan
3 – air duct
4 – replaceable filters
5 – laundry rack
6 – disinfection burglar
7 – water heating
8 – washbasin
9 – sewing machine
10 – clothes rack
with ironing table
11 – transformer
12 – vestibule
13 – panel panel
14 – shield of carload consumers
15 – storage area for clean linen
16 – Laundry and disinfection section
17 – Drying ironing machine
18 – Drying machine
19 – Washing washing machine
20 – Scale
21 – Dirty laundry storage area
22 – Steam boiler
23 – Steam supply section
24 – Condenser tank
25 – Compressor
26 – Module compartment
27 – corridor
28 – folding table
29 – folding seat
30 – fire extinguisher
31 – board folding ironing

Tare weight of the car
57.5 tonnes

Maximum speed
120 km / h

Self-contained steam supply
(Steam boiler on diesel fuel with a capacity of 500 kg steam per hour)

Washing capacity of dry laundry
50 kg / hour

Storage of laundry
– 1.625 tonnes dirty
– 1.9 tonnes clean

Power consumed by the car
60 kW

This 2004 article from the «Независимое военное обозрение» (Independent Military Review) section of Russian newspaper «Независимая газета» (Nezavisimaya Gazeta) has the full story on the operation of the bath train.

Bath on Wheels
Евгений Лисанов
20 August 2004

The village of Petrovsk, that in the Yaroslavl region, is a place in its own way remarkable. Here, in the railway dead-end of the 1005th Central Warehouse of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, there is an unusual train – the 12th bath and laundry disinfection train (BCPP) – nicknamed “Bath on Wheels”.

The BAPP is a unique phenomenon in the Armed Forces. There are no analogues in any army of the world. But domestic military strategists realised its importance for the defence capability of the country at the beginning of the last century. As told in the Military Medical Museum of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, for the first time the train-bath appeared in Russia in 1904 and was intended for the needs of the Red Cross. Then it consisted of four cars: laundries with hand washing machines and disinfection chambers.

During the Russo-Japanese campaign, the mobile sauna served hospitals and infirmaries in the Far East. Although the staff was small – 14 people, the amount of work impressed: for 10 hours processed up to 400 kg of laundry, which, by the standards of that time, was quite a lot. The bath-laundry train was also actively used during the First World War.

Over time, the Armed Forces’ need for bath and laundry compounds only increased. If there were only 9 of them before the beginning of the Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Army, in the initial period of the war (1941-1942) the number soared to 100. Usually these convoys were located in the districts of the railway distribution stations of the fronts, where they were attached to the sanitary checkpoints.

In comparison with their predecessors, their structure also somewhat changed. In addition to the bath-disinfection department and laundry, the train got auxiliary carriages. As a result, it markedly lengthened. So, the bath-disinfection department included 4 wagons: changing room, shower room, disinfection room, dressing room. One of the wagons was equipped with two steam-formalin disinfectors for 60 sets of uniforms. Mechanical equipment was installed in four laundry cars. Two water tanks, a power plant with a metalwork shop, a kitchen, a dining room, a warehouse and a wagon for the personal train were included in the auxiliary. As a result, its performance has significantly increased. In an hour, up to 100 people could go through a full sanitization.


After the war, the volume of bath and laundry jobs fell slightly. However, mobile baths have not been forgotten. Furthermore. They were modified somewhat. The current BAPPs consist of several segments. The administrative-economic group includes a wagon-staff, a wagon-warehouse, a dining car, water tanks, a wagon-power station, a hostel car.

The main group is bath-disinfection. These are wagons-sanpropusniki, a disinfection car, a shower room and a cloakroom car. The laundry group includes storage wagons with clean and dirty laundry, laundry facilities, a dryer and an ironing car. In total, the entire economy is housed in 19 wagons, which are fueled by steam from the locomotive attached for the duration of the operation.

The scheme of washing personnel, sanitizing laundry, developed many years ago, is still valid today. Here’s how it happens. A group of 30-40 people enters the sanitary checkpoint, hangs clothes on hangers, and the underwear leaves on the floor. While the staff is washed, the attire in the bath collects linen and carries it to a warehouse of dirty clothes. The scheme of changing clothes is built in such a way that the clean flows do not intersect with the dirty, explained in the Central Glove Directorate of the Ministry of Defense. After a shower, soldiers receive clean linen from the exchange fund. For everything about everything – an hour.

An integral attribute during washing is the medical officer, who determines the degree of contamination of the laundry. If it lodged, for example, lice, then it is placed in the disinfection room for disinfection.


Baths on wheels were also useful in peaceful conditions. The fate of the 12th BAPP, which is commanded by Major Sergei Zemlyansky, is noteworthy. From 1985 to 1989 he was stationed at Baikonur, servicing military builders, guard duty. After overhauling, he was again thrown to the responsible site. During the earthquake in Armenia he settled in Leninakan. His clients were servicemen, civilians.

In the 91st he again went to repair in Vologda. And a year later I went to a new place of registration in the village of Petrovsk.

A new twist on the fate of the 12th occurred in late 1994. Then in the North Caucasus, only notorious events unfolded. It should be noted that almost simultaneously with him, the third BAPP went to the rebellious republic. But for some reason the boss was left to give to him. So Zemlyansky had to manage two compositions at once. The fighting weekdays of the latter began with an unpleasant curiosity.

At the station Prohladnaya (Kabardino-Balkaria), the composition was established at a dead end. But the angle of inclination of the railway branch, as it turned out, did not allow draining the water from the car. Over time, it accumulated in such a volume that it nearly paralyzed the work of the whole train. They decided to weld a hole in the floor of the ill-fated car. During the welding work, the heater was lit. So the soldiers put out the fire, being … knee-deep in the water.

No less exotic vicissitudes occurred with the 12th train. In February 1995 he arrived in Ingushetia to serve refugees from Chechnya. But the comic situation was that the local population simply did not get the amount of laundry necessary for the full functioning of the bath on the wheels. Yes, and people: once or twice and obchelsya. So here he did not stay long, he headed for Chechnya.

At station Chervlennaya subordinates of Captain Zemlyansky, perhaps, for the first time felt the “charms” of wartime.

Sergey Valeryevich recalls:

– Somehow from a passing train some “joker” launched an illumination rocket, which landed in a pit with fuel oil. The flame enveloped the locomotive, then the tank with water flashed. It was not possible to save the tents with dirty laundry.

They extinguished the fire with the whole world: both the personnel and the guard of the station. And the local population did not remain aloof. And only after two hours managed to curb the raging elements. “It’s good that we pulled the car with fuel oil on time, and then …”, smiled the blue-eyed front-runner.

It so happened that on Chervlenaya the 12th performed a certain humanitarian mission. Chefs worked as chefs in agreement with the leadership of the North Caucasian railway in the dining-dining room. So the relationship with the local population quickly formed a warm, even friendly.

In Chechnya, the 12th worked for six months. The command came to the conclusion that it is no longer worth keeping two trains in the region. And in July 1995 he anchored and went to the point of permanent deployment. And Major Zemlyansky, having taken him to Petrovsk, returned, having accepted the leadership of the 3rd.

The summer of 1996 turned out to be disturbing. Especially “hot” was in August. The militants then launched an attack on the headquarters of the federal forces in Khankala. Banno-laundry train was also delivered. During the bombardment, several grenades exploded under the wagons. Three people were injured. Victims could have been more, Major Zemlyansky believes, if the grenades got into wagons with people. While the “turntables”, stiffen accurately over the train, fired back, Sergey’s subordinates, biting into the ground, digging additional trenches. The attack was repulsed. As a reminder of that terrible incident in the carpet of the injured car, bullet holes and grenade splinters are still visible.

Not so long ago, the 27th bath and laundry train operated at the location of the federal group in Khankala, arrived here at the very beginning of the second Chechen campaign. And … in the end he rested, as they say, in a Bose – he was written off on old age.


Repair of existing bath and laundry trains, Major Zemlyansky is convinced, is economically inexpedient. Wagons made in the middle of the last century, developed their resource twice, morally obsolete and do not meet modern requirements. And the Chechen experience has revealed a number of fundamental shortcomings.

“When the 12th was withdrawn from Chechnya,” continues Sergei Valerevich, “serious problems arose with the wagons of the pre-war model, the operation of which was banned by the Ministry of Railways from the year 1995.

At the station, the fish running gear of one of them went out of order. The chief of the road section arrested him. So the ill-fated car had to be left at the station. Already in part, it was decided that it does not make sense to repair it.

They are also disadvantageous from the ecological point of view. For a day, as experience of military operations in Chechnya has shown, 200-250 tons of waste water were collected, and there is no suitable reservoir. Where to put it? I had to pour directly under the cars. Because of this, there were constant frictions with environmentalists.

But the most important drawback is the locomotive. At the dawn of the emergence of bath-laundry trains, it was not only a source of steam, but also a draft force of the whole composition. Over time, the railway industry stopped the production of not only locomotives, but also spare parts for them. They remained only in the bath and laundry farm of the Armed Forces. The most “young” now more than half a century, the rest – even older. For a long time, they have not produced a special refractory brick for furnaces. Instead, it uses chamotte, which does not withstand the thermal loads from burning fuel oil. And instead of the required month the locomotive can only work for a week. In Chechnya, while one was under repair, another worked.

But it’s too early to send the bath-laundry trains to the scrap, Zemlyansky is convinced. To date, the BAPP is the only mobile facility with tanks capable of holding 100 tons of water. This allows uninterrupted functioning of the entire bath and laundry facilities during the half-day.

Another plus. Located on the railway tracks, the train works in close cooperation with the services of the Ministry of Railways. This allows you to make various repairs in specialized workshops. For example, rewinding electric motors, turning the shafts to pumps, washing machines. In the field, these and other repairs can not be done – stationary ones are needed.

Now the Tver Rail Carriage Plant is developing a new generation train – BPDM-2000. They will include a dry-cleaning car, a sewage treatment car. But the locomotive will disappear. The cars are equipped with an autonomous source of steam – a KPP-500 boiler operating on diesel fuel. By the way, in the farm Zemlyansky already has several experimental cars of a new model. To date, 9 have been developed, and the whole composition will consist of 15. In the fourth quarter of next year, it is planned to conduct state tests of such a train with its subsequent adoption into service.

Further reading

All of the below is in Russian:

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Moving a nuclear reactor by rail

Plenty of freight is moved by rail, but something you don’t expect to see being moved by train is a nuclear reactor. But in 2016 it did – when the 330 tonne, 13-metre high and 4.5 meters diameter nuclear reactor vessel was transported from the Atommash plant in Volgodonsk, Russia to the under construction Belarusian nuclear power plant.

Photo via


Reactor vessel delivered to Belarusian nuclear power plant construction site

MINSK, 24 December (BelTA) – The reactor vessel for the first power-generating unit was delivered to the construction site of the Belarusian nuclear power plant on 24 December. Its installation will begin in 2016, BelTA has learned.

The reactor vessel was made by the Volgodonsk-based branch Atommash of the Russian company AEM Technologies. This piece of equipment weighs over 330 tonnes. It is 13 meters high, with the diameter as large as 4.5 meters. The reactor is a vertical cylinder with an elliptical bottom. The reactor core and the internal components will be located inside.

The manufacturer sent the product on its way on 14 October. Combined means of transportation were used to deliver the piece of equipment to the nuclear power plant. Heavy trucks transported it from the manufacturer to the Tsimlyansk water reservoir first. From there the vessel was shipped by river to Veliky Novgorod. A specialized transporter was then utilized to deliver the reactor vessel by rail to the construction site.

The manufacturing of the reactor vessel for the second power-generating unit continues. It is expected to arrive in Belarus in 2017. On the whole, AEM Technologies will make over 50 kinds of equipment for the Belarusian nuclear power plant. A total of over 4,000 tonnes of equipment will be made and shipped in 2013-2017.

The Belarusian nuclear power plant is a project to build an AES-2006 type nuclear power plant 18km away from Ostrovets, Grodno Oblast. The Belarusian nuclear power plant will have two power-generating units with the total output capacity of up to 2,400MW (2×1,200MW). In line with the general contract for building the nuclear power plant the first power-generating unit is scheduled for commissioning in 2018, with the second one to go online in 2020.

The YouTube channel for Белорусская АЭС features a video of the reactor vessel being moved by rail:

While Mikhail Krivyy of Velikiy Novgorod captured the transfer of the reactor vessel from barge to road, and then to rail.

Mikhail Krivyy also has a photo essay covering the transfer on his website:

The main object of transportation was the VVER-1200 nuclear reactor, manufactured at the Atommash plant in Volgodonsk. Its weight is about 340 tons with a volume of 348 m³. The reactor body resembles a cylinder and has a displaced center of gravity.

Cargoes of this volume are almost impossible to transport on ordinary roads. A large weight and volume requires the reinforcement of the pavement along the entire route. Even subterranean engineering communications and power lines that are inconspicuous to a simple sight cause problems. And bridges and overpasses are often an insurmountable obstacle for such cargo.

It’s easier when transporting by rail. But even here it is necessary to prepare the infrastructure and adjust the train schedule. On the way, traffic lights, signs, contact network supports and other infrastructure elements can be temporarily dismantled. The schedule changes not only for passing trains, but also oncoming ones.

The easiest way is to transport such goods on water. Even on a small barge, the reactor core does not look bulky.

As a result, it was decided to transport the reactor vessel through Veliky Novgorod. From Volgodonsk to the Volga along the Volga-Don canal. Further upstream, to the Rybinsk Reservoir. Then along the Volga-Baltic waterway to the Ladoga Lake. From there, along the Volkhov River to Veliky Novgorod.

At the plant, the reactor core was loaded onto a Cometto self-propelled modular transporter. In turn, the conveyor along with the reactor were loaded onto a barge. From Veliky Novgorod to the construction site of the Belarusian NPP the reactor was transported along lightly trafficked single-track non-electrified lines.

The railway wagon used to move the reactor is known as Schnabel car – this particular example had 32 axles with a carrying capacity of 500 tonnes – type ТСЧ-500М, model 14-Т001.


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