This week, images were leaked of an alleged secret train used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to traverse the country. The 22-car train provides the Russian president with a discrete and luxurious mode of transportation.
CNN reports that the Dossier Center, a London-based organization supported by exiled Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, leaked information about the train. The Dossier Center focuses on investigating the inner workings of Russia.
Putin’s secret train reportedly cost about $74 million to produce. The upkeep costs are estimated to be approximately $ 15.8 million per year.
Leaked documents suggest that a so-called "sports-health wagon" — a Russian train that includes a gym, beauty equipment and a spa — is used by none other than Putin himself. https://t.co/ctZJrhYfYj
— CNN (@CNN) July 10, 2023
Inside Putin’s secret train
The train boasts an array of luxurious amenities, including a well-equipped gymnasium known as the “sports-health wagon,” a skincare and massage parlor featuring state-of-the-art “anti-aging machines,” and a lavishly decorated Turkish bath steam room.
It also features elegant sleeping quarters, exquisite dining cars, and even a dedicated movie theater for entertainment.
The train incorporates multiple cars equipped with advanced communication systems to ensure that the Russian president is able to remain connected to members of his government. Additionally, a separate car houses a diesel power generator to provide a reliable source of electricity.
To ensure maximum security, the train is heavily armored, featuring bulletproof windows and doors. It is also equipped with comprehensive medical facilities and life-saving equipment.
Gleb Karakulov, a former member of the Federal Security Service tasked with Putin’s security claimed that dozens of crew members are available round the clock to operate the train, ensuring its seamless functioning. Each crew member undergoes quarantine protocols to ensure Putin is not at risk from any potential illnesses while he is on board.
Speculation and denial
The extensive use of trains by Putin has been widely documented, with the Kremlin itself having previously released images of him conducting state meetings in opulently decorated rooms onboard.
Speculation about a secret train belonging to Putin has long persisted among the Russian public. Amateur train enthusiasts in Russia have consistently reported sightings of a train speeding along the tracks, absent from official timetables or railway databases.
This enigmatic train pulls a carriage distinguished by its characteristic white dome, believed to house the antennas and satellite nodes that facilitate Putin’s sophisticated communication setup.
Nevertheless, the Kremlin has denied that the images and information presented by the Dossier Center pertain to Putin’s train. Russian officials told CNN that “President Putin does not have such a car in his use or in his ownership.”
Why does the Russian president prefer rail travel?
The train allegedly went into service for the first time in 2014, but its usage significantly increased during the unfolding of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
According to insiders, Putin’s preference for rail travel over air transportation is primarily motivated by the secrecy and enhanced security that remaining on the ground offers.
“The plane, as soon as it takes off, it immediately crosses flight radar,” Karakulov told the Dossier Center. “The train is used in order to somehow hide these movements,” he added.