Vladimir Putin Travels Across Russia On A Secret Railway In An Armored Train
Russian President Vladimir Putin has a new preferred means of travel between his several residences. According to an investigation by the Dossier Center, the Russian leader has been traveling more often via armored train, switching from airplanes for security reasons.
“Vladimir Putin started using an armored train in the fall of 2021,” said the Dossier Center. “When the Russian army began to actively prepare for the invasion of Ukraine. After the start of the war, he rides it more and more often, especially to his favorite residence in Valdai.”
From the outside, Putin’s armored ride generally looks like a regular Russian Railways train with its gray body and red stripe — except it’s pulled by two diesel locomotives instead of the usual one, and it sits on six axles like freight trains instead of the usual four for passenger trains, indicating heavier, armored cars. It also has concealed communications equipment like antennas on its roof.
Inside, the armored train is equipped with a car with a bedroom and office, a car for accompanying personnel, and another for special communications. There are no official photos of the exterior train since 2012 when it was used by former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The Russian dictator reportedly favors the armored train as unlike aircraft, it can’t be tracked or monitored. This and two of his residences are also in the Black Sea, an area that has been a no-fly zone since the beginning of the war.
The Dossier Center found that a train with this description was listed under the Grand Service Express Company, which was owned by a firm that was once associated with the nephew of Yuri Kovalchuk, a close friend of Putin’s and also the main shareholder of Rossiya Bank.
The armored train was refitted from 2014 to 2015, around the same time Russia annexed Crimea. According to the Dossier Center’s estimates, the refitting might have cost as much as 1 billion Russian roubles or US$13.5 million.
While the existence of the train isn’t a secret, its trips and stops are. A separate report by investigative media outlet Proekt (Project) says that a clandestine network of railways and stations leading to his residences has also been built to allow Putin to travel safely and undetectably across the country.
Proekt found at least three locations that can be connected to Putin’s secret railway service.
READ: Is Vladimir Putin Getting Ready to Flee Russia?
One is a station with a helipad in the Valdaysky National Park, near Putin’s favorite Valdai home. The second one, according to satellite images, is a station in Novo-Ogaryovo that appeared in 2015, it’s about 400 meters from Putin’s home in the Moscow area. And then the third one is a station with a dead-end railway line near Putin’s Sochi residence Bocharov Ruchey, this one appears to have been built in 2017.
These areas are all guarded, concealed, and monitored. The one in Novo-Ogaryovo is built on land that was “withdrawn from private ownership” for the Federal Guard Service by then Prime Minister Medvedev. Designed for a small number of cars, it’s hidden behind a high fence and monitored by surveillance cameras installed 10 meters apart. The third station in Sochi is also hidden from view by a high fence.
According to a source Proekt spoke to, Putin’s special armored train is parked in a closed terminal reserved for VIPs in a depot at the Moscow-Kalanchyovskaya railway station. A new highway was reportedly built to lead directly to the platform of the VIP terminal in 2017.
Information for this story was found via Dossier Center, Proekt, Twitter, Yahoo! News, Komsomolskaya Pravda, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.