The Russian Federation’s national rail operator RZD has been much in the news in recent weeks, particularly in the context of the World Cup. The decision to lay on 734 extra trains (totalling 450,000 seats) giving free transport to holders of tickets to World Cup games was widely acclaimed as a magnificent gesture.
But June 2018 also saw another innovation on RZD trains. The idea of having a library on Russian trains goes back a long way. The first Bolshevik propaganda trains — often called agit-trains — ran 100 years ago this summer (in August 1918). As well as having a mobile cinema, these trains carried a travelling library full of literature appealing to Bolshevik pieties. A hundred years on, RZD now introduces its first dedicated on-board libraries for junior travellers.