See Russian Train Run. Run, train, run!
Grani.ru is currently carrying a short article about the start of a new high-speed train service between St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. This made me curious as I didn’t think Russia had any fast trains. (Not that it is that fast: it covers the 1100 kilometres in 8 hours 25 minutes, which is 129 kph or 80 mph. European high speed trains do 300 kph.)
Grani goes on to say that the train, called the Sapsan, is a joint venture between Russian Railways and Siemens under which Russia is buying 8 trains for 276 million Euro. As this sounded more like a purchase contract than a joint venture, my curiosity was sparked and I followed up on Russian Wikipedia.
Can you imagine dear reader, do you dare, what a road is like that does not meet Russian standards? Paul Goble reports on the catastrophic failure of the Putin regime to maintain Russia’s crumbling road network:
Even as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin again promises to complete a trans-Russia highway and as Moscow media report progress on several high-profile road projects near the capital, including paid highways, the country’s road system in many parts of the country is near the point of collapse, officials say.
They point to two reasons for that conclusion. On the one hand, according to a report in Irkutsk’s Argumenty I Fakty, the number of cars and trucks using the roads is growing rapidly, putting pressure on highways that were not designed to carry either the number or weight of vehicles now passing over them every day.
And on the other, officials responsible for roads say, the amount of money available for keeping the roads in good repair has been declining each year, a trend that in domino fashion means that Russia will eventually have to spend even more to bring the highway system back even to the level it was at a decade or more ago.
Russia is a Nation of Barbarians
In our comments section below, a YouTube video is displayed. Take care before you view it, it isn’t for the squeamish.
In it, a Russian driver in the city of Irkutsk plows into a group of pedestrians, seriously injuring them.
The driver’s airbags deploy and the driver is uninjured, while the car is heavily damaged.
The driver gets out of the car . . . and the only thing she’s interested in doing is checking out the damage to her precious vehicle.
No other drivers stop to help.
Pedestrians walk right by. None of them stop to help either.
No criminal charges were filed against the driver.
Russia is a nation of barbarians.
Passengers evacuating other passengers, official rescuers nowhere to be seen
Shame on Russia!
There was nothing we could do to help the injured. There was no doctor, no first-aid kit on board the train. It seems like there wasn’t anything to provide even the most basic assistance. There weren’t even any torches to look for the injured with. A lot of time valuable time was lost, time that could have been used to save people. The apparent absence of first-aid kits on such a train was simply unbelievable, especially in the light of the 2007 blast. No one even thought to have reserves of bandages.”
— Stanislav Aranovsky, Nevsky Express rail passenger, to Delovoi Petersburg
When a terrorist bomb exploded underneath a high-speed train halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg on Saturday night, once again the greatest damage to Russia was not the loss of life, horrible as it was, but the humiliating light cast on Russia’s reckless indifference to the welfare of its citizens.
The New York Times reports:
Every society has a breaking point. In Boston it was the tea tax; in France it was Marie Antoinette’s wigs. If you’re curious where the breaking point may lie in Russia, try slamming the door as you get out of a taxicab — even the most rickety Soviet-era Lada. What will pass across the driver’s face is an expression of such exquisite suffering that you will first apologize and then run. Russians love their cars.