Newly released photographs have offered a view of the lavish interior of the 22-car “ghost train” used by none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The fact that Putin used a train was not hidden from public as several images of meetings released by Kremlin showed ornately decorated boardroom from the train.
However, a set of documents and photographs were obtained recently by the London-based Russian investigations group the Dossier Center and shared with many news platforms.
The leaked documents say that Putin’s train is heavily armoured, the doors and windows are bulletproof and is equipped with life-saving medical equipment and facilities.
The leaked documents are believed to have come from an insider at Zircon Service, a Russian company tasked by Russian Railways, to prepare the coaches for the Russian president.
According to a report in CNN, the train was made in 2018 for Putin to travel within the country in comfort and secrecy.
The train hosts a range of facilities including a fully equipped gym or “sports-health wagon,” a massage parlour with “anti-aging machines,” a fully-equipped Turkish bath steam room, lush bedrooms and ornate dining cars.
“The sports car allows the president not only to travel in comfort, but also to take care of himself. Inside there is a beautician’s office, a gym and even a hammam, and if required, this car can save a person’s life. So, in the cosmetologist’s office, medical equipment is installed,” the leaked document read.
It also features a movie theatre, an entire car housing diesel power generator and several coaches equipped with communications system allowing Putin to remain connected to the outside world.
The room in the train is developed to prevent the use of listening devices as it is installed with “hardware to protect against the leakage of acoustic information.”
The CNN report further said that a request was made by Kremlin in August 2022 “to install gym equipment Hoist HD-3800 and Hoist HD-3200 instead of Abductor-Standard and Abductor-Technogym in the sports-health wagon No 021-78630.”
The train is estimated to be around $74 million (Rs 609 crore), with annual maintenance costs running around $15.8 million (Rs 130 crore).
It was reportedly first commissioned in 2014 and saw a considerable increase in usage in 2022, when Russia started the invasion of Ukraine.
However, Kremlin has denied the findings regarding the train and said, “President Putin does not have such a car in his use or in his ownership.”
According to the leaked documents, a meeting was held in November 2018 to assess the work remaining to be done on the gym car. The minutes of that meeting showed that apart from the executives from Zircon Service and Russian Railways, there were 10 officials present, who were tasked for the development of the train.
Gleb Karakulov, a former engineer and captain in the Russian Federal Security Service, who defected from the country last year, said Putin has increasingly turned to train travel as a way to maintain secrecy and avoid being tracked.
“The plane, as soon as it takes off, it immediately crosses flight radar. The train, it is used in order to somehow hide these movements,” Karakulov said in the interview last year.
However, Putin’s ghost train have not been completely ignored. Amateur trainspotters have spotted and photographed the train repeatedly over the years.
“There is a ghost train on the railways of our country. It is not in the timetables or in the Russian Railways systems,” a trainspotter wrote on rutrain.com.