Radioactive Railroad

A journey through the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone
Radioactive Railroad

About "Radioactive Railroad"

For as long as I can remember, I've had a bizarre interest in man-made disasters. They are the reflections of the hubris of man, made visible in the physical world. Bhopal, Love Canal, Kyshtym, Minamata, but most of all Chornobyl. I knew that at some point I would make it a point to visit the Exclusion Zone, and to see Pripyat, but it wasn't until I had seen the website Lost Places that I learned about Chornobyl's railroad. Yevgen Goncharenko deserves much credit for his explorations of the Exclusion zone, and his initial research into the railroad that runs past the Chornobyl plant.

The more I read about the Ovruch to Chernihiv line, the more I wanted to tell its story. In some respects, the line is extremely boring, and relatively unimportant - but coincidence brought it to the forefront of history. Indirectly the rail line played a part in where the Chornobyl plant was placed, and later where the city Slavutych was built. It was a witness to the worst man-made disaster in history, and later the fall of the Soviet Union. It was, at least to me, a story worth telling.

Researching the railroad was not easy, as little has been written about it in English. In order to read maps and timetables, I had to teach myself to read Cyrillic. For the rest, I relied heavily on translators. Evgenii Alimov's book about the railroad, and the collected knowledge at the forums were extremely helpful. Thanks much to ChernobylWel and our guide Nikolai for arranging my access to the zone.

Initially to be published on my railroad-themed site, I felt the story worthy of its own mini site. Additional photographs from my visit to Chornobyl and Ukraine can be found there.

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Part One:
A Journey to Ukraine
Part Two:
Humans and the Atom: A Disaster in the Making
Part Three:
Powering and Connecting the Soviet Union
Part Four:
The Ovruch to Chernihiv Rail Link
Part Five:
The Age of Chornobyl
Part Six:
Permanently Contaminated: The Railroad Graveyard Photo Gallery
Part Seven:
Abandoned: The Radioactive Railroad Photo Gallery
Part Eight:
Ghost Town: Pripyat Photo Gallery
Part Nine:
Reborn in Slavutych Photo Gallery
Part Ten:
All Aboard for Chernihiv Photo Gallery
Part Eleven:
Trains in the Exclusion Zone Photo Gallery
Part Twelve:
An Uncertain Future
Please note that this site makes the best effort to follow Ukrainian place names. Most English speakers are familiar with Chernobyl and Kiev, which are Russian spellings. Chornobyl and Kyiv are the proper Ukrainian spellings.
Radioactive Railroad