Russia's railways: life at the end of the tracks
By Maxim Zmeyev
KALACH, Russia (Reuters) - In a remote corner of the Russian Urals region of Sverdlovsk, tiny villages are shadows of their former selves. For the few local residents, a narrow-gauge railway is their lifeline.
The tracks end at Kalach, home to just a dozen people, all of them adults.
The forestry industry here suffered when the former Soviet Union imploded and people moved away in search of work in the steelmaking city of Yekaterinburg and beyond.
About 600 people lived in Kalach about 30 years ago.
"Those were the days," said Alexander, who used to work in the forestry business.
He recalls the trains that used to take timber from the forests to the railhead in the town of Alapayevsk.
Boarding a 50-year-old diesel train on this line is like going back in time.
The trains run a few times a week, so some in Kalach use a Pioneer motorized railcar to get around. They are nicknamed "Trouble" because they often crash or come off the tracks. Continued...