First passenger train arrives in Kherson after Russian occupation ends

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Thursday, November 24, 2022

Last Friday, the Ukrainian Railways (UR) restarted passenger traffic between the capital Kyiv and the coastal city of Kherson. The Ukrainian military took the city back from retreating Russian forces on November 11, after an eight-month long occupation, during which the traffic on this line halted.

A conductor on last week's Friday train between Kyiv and Kherson
Image: Dovgan Tetiana.

For last Friday, last Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, railway timetables show a total of five overnight sleeper trains scheduled to leave Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi railway station for Kherson, and to make round-trips the following nights. As of today, no further trains are showing up as scheduled for these routes for the year.

Friday night, rock musician Oleh Skrypka held a concert at Pasazhyrskyi station at the launch event, and on Saturday morning, a small crowd greeted the train in Kherson. 200 passengers took the train, claimed the Deputy Head of the Office of the President, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, on Telegram, among them Ukrainian deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk and culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko.

The first train featured some painted train cars to "honor... the heroes of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine", said a UR press release. This "Train to Victory" started touring the country on August 23, and ran on the reopened Chișinău-Kyiv line in early November. Murad Sezer's pictures of the first train to Kherson show a fortified engine cab with armor plates and a flatcar pushed before the engine itself.

UR forwarded all ticket sale proceeds from the first three trains to United24, a fundraising organization for Ukraine. The company sells similar charity tickets to the first trains to still-occupied Mariupol, Simferopol, Luhansk, and Donetsk, which can be used after the recapture of the respective destination cities.

Between November 11 and 13, the Ukrainian army retook the West bank of river Dnipro from retreating Russian forces. The withdrawal opened up the last occupied mainland parts of Mykolaiv region and Kherson City, the only regional capital taken by Russia since the war began in late February.

The withdrawal followed an Ukrainian shelling campaign, which started this summer to deteriorate Russian supply lines. Russian commander Sergey Surovikin acknowledged that the shelling made it impossible to supply their troops over the river. In late July, Ukrainian HIMARS rockets damaged the Antonivka Railway Bridge connecting the West and East parts of Kherson region; retreating Russian forces completely destroyed the bridge with explosives.

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