This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Russians are the world champs for staging sentimental train station and airport arrivals and send offs, frequently featuring flowers and champagne. To foreigners it often seems wonderfully 'old world'. For example, for many trains leaving Moscow or St. Petersburg, the old patriotic WW2 song 'Farewell Slavic Woman', blares tinnily from the anouncement speakers, and many an eye becomes moist both on and off the platform.
They pulled out all the stops on this first train, with the governor and his suspiciously lovely companion joining in on the joviality.
Conductors in green caps, souvenir glass holders, and champagne for everyone who wants it. Today, Crimea greeted the first Russian passenger train that had come through the Kerch Strait. It took 43.5 hours for the number 7 from Saint Petersburg to Sevastopol to travel a distance of 2,742 kilometers (1,703.8 miles). When the train approached the Crimean Bridge, the engineer slowed down to let the first passengers look at the grand structure.
Salima Zarif and Yana Shcherbataya report on the unforgettable moments of Train #7's first trip.
In the middle of the night, conductor Yulia woke up everyone who asked her in the evening, which is almost the whole car.
“Wake up, we'll see the Crimean Bridge soon.”
Crimean champagne and tangerines were stored beforehand. This group is from Khanty-Mansiysk. They've crossed half the country to be here at this moment.
“Hurrah! Happy New Year! Happy new bridge!”
At last, the first regular passenger train, Train #7 from Saint Petersburg, got to the Crimean Bridge.
It's 2 a.m., but nobody's going to sleep on our train. Right now, we're crossing the Crimean Bridge. We're going down in history. The train slowed down to let everyone feel that moment's special meaning. Here's what this Tavria's engineer sees from his cab.
Our correspondent in Crimea Yana Shcherbataya watched our train's trip from afar.
The Crimean Bridge met its first passenger train in the colors of the Russian flag. It's a truly historic moment. The legendary Train #7 is rushing under the railroad arch of the Crimean Bridge. The bright lights can be seen even from space. From now on, the Crimean Bridge will always be lit like this. The blue arch is the automobile section, the red one is the railroad. It took 15 minutes for the train to cover 19 kilometers (~11.8 miles) of railroad. And only under the arch, the train slightly slowed down. Everyone's been waiting for this for 4 years, that's how long it took to build the railroad section.
Graham Phillips, UK journalist: “It's so impressive, my emotions are overwhelming. I'm stunned, it was really emotional.”
The Saint Petersburg - Sevastopol train shone like a Christmas tree. Dozens of camera flashes were seen in the car windows every second. This night, nobody on this train is asleep. It's a spontaneous holiday in cars. Fellow travelers from different compartments and cars became friends in the two days of the trip.
"All sailors remember the Sevastopol waltz."
Yuri Pesochnikov's looking into the darkness, trying to make out the silhouettes of mountain peaks. He was the trainmaster of the legendary Train #7, the train that had been connecting Leningrad and Sevastopol since the 1950s.
Yuri Pesochnikov, former trainmaster of Train #7: “This new Train #7 has yet to prove that it'll be legendary.”
Yuri and his wife Lyudmila have been working on this route for thirty years. The new Train #7 also has a married couple of conductors, Anna and Nikita Bolovinovs.
Nikita Bolovinov, conductor: “We're always together — at home, at work, everywhere.”
Once the train arrives in Crimea, Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksenov and the Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev got on the train.
Sergey Aksenov, Head of the Republic of Crimea: “Now, a land border connects us with our home country. We used to be an island for Russia. Now, it's part of continental Russia.”
Mikhail Razvozhaev, the Governor of Sevastopol: “It's special champagne devoted to the first renewed train to Sevastopol.”
Crimean residents were greeting the train along the whole railroad track. And, of course, people were waiting for the train at the stations. Yana Shcherbataya filmed that.
The town of Vladislavovka, 4 a.m. The small station greeted the first passenger train to cross the Crimean Bridge with a grand concert. All stations greeted the train with such celebration. The largest was in the republic's capital. People came here even from other regions to see the legendary train with their own eyes.
“Such events only happen once. In 16 or 18 years, I want my child to see the photos and say, "I was there."
“We came here from Yevpatoria before work just to see this train. It took us all night.”
It's a matter of hours before the historic trip ends.
The long-awaited meeting at the Sevastopol station. It's been more than 5 years since passenger trains arrived here, and now the new Tavria cars brought the first passengers from Saint Petersburg to the Hero City of Sevastopol.
So, the 43-hour trip is behind us. Our Tavria train brought us from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. The dream of reviving the railroad connection with Crimea has come true.
Among the passengers was Zarina Doguzova, head of Rosturizm.
Zarina Doguzova, head of the Federal Agency for Tourism: “Fantastic atmosphere, the emotions are overwhelming. First of all, I feel proud of our country and grateful to the thousands of construction workers.”
The Black Sea Fleet Ensemble sang "The Sevastopol Waltz" and "Katyusha" right on the platform.
"And send greetings from Katyusha to the soldier on the far-away border."Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!
It's a super important moment for the city of Sevastopol. Look how many happy faces there are!
“We've always wanted to be with Russia, and we did it.”
Seems like the whole city's greeting the first train. The Sevastopol residents had flags in their hands: the state flag and, of course, the navy flags. Now, the city of Russian sailors has an ironlike connection with the continent via the railroad.
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