In the Far East of Russia exists a mobile doctor’s surgery by the name of Matvei Mudrov that runs along the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) for 2,672 miles. The train named after a 19th century Russian physician, makes about 10 trips a year staying in these rural settlements for a day or so.
Originally as a means of providing medical services to railways employees in remote destinations, the train now provides much needed medical services and check-ups to remote villages where little medical care is available.
Composing of 8 cars the train is operated by Russia’s state railway agency and contains examination rooms, basic medical equipment (x-rays, ultrasound equipment and heart monitors) and even a lab used to test patient’s blood and urine. The train brings 15 doctors many of whom are specialists and are all provided free of charge, with a cardiologist, gynaecologist, psychiatrist, ophthalmologist, neurologist and even a chemist being available for patients visiting the train. Each member of the medical team lives and works on-board the train for a period of 2 weeks on 2 weeks off, doing 12 hour shifts.
On an average tour the train visits 8 villages, coming to each just once a year, with 80 people walking through the carriage doors every day.
Conditions on the train’s journey through one of the least inhabited places in the world, are harsh and temperatures drop down to -45 degrees Celsius. For those in the secluded settlements the train is a means of feeling connected to the rest of country and a rare occasion for them to make contact with civilisation.