Conflicts & War

‘Victory Train’ rolls into Kherson to raise spirits, funds

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, Nov 19 (EFE).- The first train from Kyiv to arrive in Kherson in nearly nine months rolled into the recently liberated city’s station on Saturday.

Some 200 passengers traveling on board the so-called ‘Victory Train’ to Kherson, the first since the start of the Russian occupation, were greeted by hundreds of locals, according to public broadcaster Suspline.

The station is one of the few places in Kherson where electricity, telecommunication and water supplies have been restored.

The train consisted of seven carriages dedicated to the regions that have been partially occupied by the invading Russian forces. Each was painted in a different style by Ukrainian artists.

Passengers purchased their tickets worth at least 1,000 grivnas ($26), as part of the joint project by the state railway company and “United24”, an initiative backed by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenksyy aimed at raising donations in support of Ukraine.

In addition to the train to Kherson, tickets have been sold for the currently occupied cities of Donetsk, Mariupol, Lugansk, Simferopol and Sevastopol.

Yuliia Kabanets, who bought a ticket to Donetsk, told Efe that she did so because she wants to return home someday. In doing so, she has also contributed to the reconstruction of the country.

The funds raised from ticket purchases will go towards the purchase of “last mile transport,” cars that will help connect towns and villages in the unoccupied territories with the nearest rail links.

The United24 initiative also helps fund the country’s defense and demining, medical aid and the repair of damaged infrastructure.

According to the head of state railroads, Olexandr Kamyshin, the tickets are being purchased “as a symbol of faith in the Armed Forces and the liberation of Ukraine from the occupiers.”

They will be available for use immediately after de-occupation and passengers will be notified as soon as the connection to a liberated city is restored.

The first train from Kyiv is being seen by residents as a sign of the city’s rebirth, which has been without electricity and water supply for three weeks.

Although the temperature is expected to drop today to 1 degree above zero at night, it can still reach 15 degrees during the day.

Cell phone communication has been restored in much of the city and “Starlink” satellite Wi-Fi hotspots have also appeared throughout the town.

With most stores and pharmacies closed, the city’s residents are relying on the large volumes of humanitarian aid brought in by volunteers and NGOs from all over Ukraine.

Although the city of Kherson remains mostly closed to those wishing to enter or leave, the arrival of some of the first visitors by train underscores the important role the railroads have played in ensuring the movement of people and equipment during the war in one of Europe’s largest countries.

Trains ensured the evacuation of some 4 million internally displaced persons from cities such as Odesa, Chernihiv and Kharkiv at the beginning of the invasion and supported the country’s economy during a period of acute fuel shortages following a series of Russian missile attacks on its oil refineries and depots.

Medical and evacuation trains continue to run west, moving several hundred people each day to relative safety in Lviv.

Meanwhile, eastbound trains play an important role in ensuring that military equipment, provided by Ukraine’s foreign partners, reaches the front line.

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