АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Anna Shliakhova
31 May 2022
Mykola Miroshnik lives in Khmelnytskyy, before the war he repaired carriages, working as a conductor of evacuation trains from Kryvyy Rih to Lviv during March.
I worked on the railway before the war. My work was to get carriages to repair. My last trip was to Mykolayiv. I got a carriage from there to Uzhhorod and then went back to Khmelnyskyy. Then I was told to stay at home as I had already done my working norm.
Frankly, I didn’t expect the full-scale war, there were no conditions for it. I lived a normal life: spent time with my neighbors, everything was as usual. On the 24th of February the call from my Kharkiv friend woke me up. He called at 6-30 a.m. and told me that the war began. Honestly speaking, I didn’t believe him at first, I thought he was just drunk. Soon after the air-raid sounded for the first time, but only for a short period of time ― for about 5 minutes. My friend from Kharkiv called me again at 10 a.m.. He said: “Kolyan, it’s shit. They’re bombing us.” I turned on YouTube to check the news and saw Zelenskyy was declaring martial law… The next three days I was so shocked that I was constantly shaking. Every hour I went outside to smoke. People asked me some questions, but I couldn’t answer them.
On the third day sirens started to sound. We were hiding in bomb shelter in the cellar of our house. At first everything was so scary, but in 5-6 days we got accustomed to it. It was like: “If nothing explodes, then ZSU works excellent.”
As I live at the first flour, the responsibility for the bomb shelter laid on me. I was given the key and I had to open the cellar when the alarm went off. Then we started to equip the new shelter. Sockets and light were made, we also all chipped in to buy a heater. Our shelter is huge, we call it catacombs.
On the 1 of March my neighbors and I were making grids for the army, when I got a call from my work. They said I should come at 8 a.m. the next day for all the conductors, because it was necessary to replace people who had worked since February 24. I could choose the direction: Kharkiv, Kyiv or Kryvyy Rih – I chose Kryvyy Rih. The next morning at 8 a.m. we all were there with our things and suitcases. A group of conductors went to Kharkiv, another went to Poltava. I was in a group of 9 that was assigned to the train to Kryvyy Rih. This train was already on its way to Lviv and we had to get there. In the afternoon the train came that we supposed to get there by. I realized at once that it was impossible to get into a couch, so we went to the back cab of the locomotive.
“It was a real horror on the train. Conductors didn’t open doors and didn’t let anybody in. Only volunteers managed to throw something in”.
When we came in the morning to Lviv, I got a call that our train was still in Zdolbuniv. Usually it takes 3-4 hours to get to Lviv from there, but it could be even more due to the speed limitations. At first we found a place for us outside, but when we got cold, I noticed a room for the military. I came inside and said that we are the group of 9 conductors waiting for our train to Kryvyy Rih to do our duty. They let us in without any problems, just checked our documents. We stayed there till afternoon. Then finally our train arrived, we replaced its stuff and our so-called trip that lasted for 20 days began.
We went to Kryvyy Rih without passengers. There we were fed and fully equipped, then our duty began. There were 180 passengers in my second-class carriage on my first trip. It had to be 200, but 20 of them refused to go. All of them got on the train in Kryvyy Rih.
We made only technical stops along the way to replace the locomotive and the crew. It was impossible to get more passengers on stops, the train was already more than full. In general, everything went very efficiently. We came to Lviv, cleaned the carriages, ate, found a locomotive and went back. It was a little bit scary in the first few days. Panic was in the air due to the risk of being under fire. The speed of the train went down to 20 km/h during alarms. If it happened before a big railway station, we just stopped. During the day when air raids sounded, passengers had to sit away from windows or lie on the floor. During the night conductors covered windows with special rolets. 90% carriages had them, but not my carriage. So we put winter blankets on the windows. It was emotionally hard because of different passengers’ emotions – I felt myself an ironman those days as railwaymen were often called then.
After that the carriage wasn’t so crowded and it became a little bit easier. We went a few times to Uzhhorod and should have gone to Helm but due to the train congestion we had to turn to Chervonograd. On the 19th of March we came from Uzhhorod to Kryvyy Rih and for 4 days just stayed in the depot. On the 21th of March the order came to hitch our 6 carriages to the train #120 Zaporizhzhya ― Kryvyy Rih ― Lviv. Then we came back to Khmelniyskyy, left the carriages and were back home till the end of March. I have been back to my regular work transporting carriages to repair since April.
I think we’ll have the best country after the war. We’ll get into the EU, all the world will help us. I believe we can reconstruct Mariupol, Borodyanka, Hostomel, Bucha, Irpin and other cities. If I need to be there, I’m ready to go. I hope the war will end and we’ll go to Odesa to the sea in the summer. And if everything ends very well, we’ll go to Ukrainian Krym!
Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Anna Shliakhova
“We were bombed every day and every night, the hum echoed through the ground and through the house, everything was shaking, the explosions were very loud and bright, like the flash of a camera,” — the diary of a woman from an occupied village in the Kharkiv region