The Russification of Ukrainian Railways
4 MAY 2022
As Russia has been progressively occupying Ukrainian territory, she has been annexing substantial parts of the Ukrainian railway system.
As a general rule, the railways in Ukraine have not been damaged by either party save with one or two exceptions in which Ukraine has blown up her own railway bridges in an attempt to disrupt Russian logistics, with a view to preventing Russian transportation of military materials by rail to the Donbass front line. Russia has recently done the same in the Odessa oblast.
We have been endeavouring to create an understanding of just how much of the Ukrainian railway system Russian occupying forces have taken control of. The railway gauges in Russia and Ukraine are the same; so once control is taken over a railway line Russian forces can both use Ukrainian railway tracks as logistical supply routes and can run civilian passenger trains, if necessary packed with Russian troops, on territory no longer under the control of free Ukraine.
To the best of our understanding, the following rail routes have been placed under Russian control; but not all of them are yet being used for military / logistics purposes. The best map to use to study Ukrainian railways is the following, available courtesy of the Railways Gazette:
And here by way of comparison is a map of Ukraine's principal highways.
Here is the list of railway tracks we understand to be under Russian control, together with an indication of whether civilian (i.e. passenger) services are running on those routes. (C) indicates confirmed civilian service. (C?) indicates that there may be a civilian service although a source may not be entirely certain. (?) on its own means that we really don't know which side controls that piece of track.
Odessa-Belhorod Dnystrovyski-Ismail (C)
Fedorovka-Verkhniy-Khamish Zarya-Volnovakha-Donetsk (C)
The information on this list is subject to constant review and updating, and is based upon primary sources of civilians living in the local regions and their reports. Some of those reports may be wrong; in some cases the reporting persons may have used the railways in question, in some cases not.
If you believe that any entry is wrong, please do contact us via any of the methods listed on www.the-paladins.com/contact and inform us. Collecting this sort of information is a most haphazard business.
We will attempt to update this list routinely, if people continue providing us with information.
It seems that in most cases, civilian railway services under Russian control are not unduly laborious to use. You just buy a ticket and board the train. There may be additional security checks; but we do not have reliable information about this for every station. We are of the view that travel by train remains one of the safest methods of travel both through free Ukraine and Russian-occupied Ukraine, where the services are available and not cut (e.g. because they traverse the front line).
This exercise is a genuine labour of love. It has taken tens of hours of work to prepare. We apologise if there are any mistakes; but all information is provided without liability. It is simply impossible to be sure of every railway line control and every civilian train running on a day-to-day basis.