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PHOTOS: Ukrainian rail stations serve as essential hubs during war

By Ty O'Neil
This Is Reno photographer and video journalist Ty O’Neil, whose passion lies with documenting conflict zones, traveled to Europe to document the war in Ukraine and its impacts. This Is Reno will continue to follow Ty’s efforts in Ukraine as he is able to send them.

LVIV, Ukraine – The Ukrainian rail system has been a major player in the evacuation of civilians after the Russian invasion into Ukraine. Some people, of course, left via private cars or buses, but the blue and yellow trains have become an iconic image of the war’s refugee crisis.  

Like any machine, these trains need maintenance, and the increased use is taking its toll. 

At the Lviv train station today sleeper cars were being cleaned and maintained by staff. Trash bag after trash bag was removed from each train car. Staff removed bed linens, sprayed down surfaces and mopped floors to get the cars back in good condition.  

Other staff work on mechanical parts right on the platforms to keep these trains moving. 

The Facebook page for Ukrzaliznytsia – the state owned rail company – has featured stories of staff living out of  their offices just to help keep things running.  

“This is Artem Kalinovsky, Deputy Head of the Limansky Motorvagon Depot, and Volodymyr Semenyuk, Head of the Liman Station. Since the beginning of the Russian armed aggression, they literally moved to the station to help numerous refugees from Lysyčansk, Severodonetsk, Rubizhnogo and other cities,” one post said. 

The stations are also a hub for aid groups like the red cross who offer assistance to refugees. 

As the war moves into almost a month of conflict, the flood of refugees has slowed but train stations remain busy. They’re a hub of activity with people either coming to Lviv for safety from other areas or simply stopping over before continuing on to Poland.

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