Sunday, 20 January 2013

Siberia is so bracing! Russian falls out of the back of a train and runs 7km in T-shirt and slippers



When I was nineteen I found myself sat on a Russian train deep in Siberia along that eponymous railway. I was bored, the journeys are long and when you’ve seen snow and trees siding past for days a walk through the carriages can come to seem a merry little adventure. At the end of each carriage I opened the heavy metal door into the vestibule, two more doors over the wagon coupling and another into the next carriage. On I went until suddenly I opened another metal door to….wide open snow and train tracks. I hung, teetering for a second before pulling myself back in shock. No one had locked the last door on the train! I nearly fell out of the back!

While my experience was surprising, that of Valery Malkov was a lot more so. His train was clickety-clacking through the night and the forests of the Amur region in Russia’s far east. The forty two year old haulage driver went for a cigarette in the vestibule at the carriage end, through that heavy metal door where Russian train smokers go to shiver and puff for a few minutes. However, as he puts it, when he went to head back to his compartment he opened the wrong door. The door was, like mine, at the back of the train and Valery did fall out, onto the tracks, in the middle of the forest.

He tried to run back and catch the train, no use. He kept running though as he rapidly realised he was running for his life. It was -40 Celsius and poor Valery, having just got out of bed, was wearing slippers, jogging bottoms and a T-shirt. By pure luck the next station was seven kilometres away. When staff their saw a scantily clad man running towards them, Valery says, “their eyes nearly popped out. But they quickly gave me tea and warmed me up.”

Valery had fallen out of the back of train. He was, understandably, a little embarrassed. “I didn’t tell anyone. My wife only found out after journalists rang her up.” We don’t know what the next conversation between Valery and his wife would have been like, but I suspect it may have been an interesting one. Valery is ok. No injuries or hypothermia. He’s back at work and probably spinning a few yarns now with his colleagues on the haulage lorries he drives.

An investigation has been started into whether the train guard left the back door of the train unlocked, which would as we can see, have been quite an oversight. As I’ve recently reported Siberia and the Russian Far East are having quite a few problems with packs of ravenous wolves, providing another incentive to keep him running fast. Last suggestion, with the Sochi winter Olympics approaching perhaps a new event is now beckoning, a Trans-Siberian railway run? Perhaps 7km is quite enough at -40 but competitors would have to jump out of the back of a train in T-shirts and slippers and run as fast as they could along the tracks while being chased by packs of starving wolves. Only the Russians could invent a sport like that. Perhaps that’s what he was TRAINing for? Sorry. I'm sure there would have been some finger wagon from his wife. I'll stop now.   

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