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MOSCOW, August 7. /TASS/. The Russian railway force group in the Southern Military District has two special armored trains, The Baikal and The Amur, and not four, a source at the Defense Ministry told TASS.
Earlier, a number of mass media said that currently the group has at its disposal four armored trains, which had reportedly been withdrawn from operation back in 2009 only to be overhauled a while later.
"The railway forces in the Southern Military District have two repair and engineering battalions. Each has one special armored train. Their names are the Baikal and the Amur," the source said.
According to the official, the trains’ main mission is not participation in combat operations, but the escorting of military trains carrying cargoes, vehicles and personnel, and also prompt repairs of damaged rail track. Each train carries a kit of materials and components for repairing and restoring 150 meters of rail track, the source said. Each train consists of two diesel-electric locomotives (one is a stand-by engine) and a dozen cars, including flatcars and armoured cars carrying weapons.
"The trains are armed with air defense weapons capable of hitting low-flying air targets," the source said. "The personnel of each train are armed with standard automatic rifles, machine-guns and grenade launchers. If need be, the trains may be reinforced with other weapons, including artillery pieces."
All of the trains’ crews are military servicemen. There is no civilian personnel on board.
"The crews are permanently ready for coping with a variety of tasks to eliminate the effects of emergencies, such as acts of sabotage," he said.
The official recalled that the special trains were used during both Chechen wars and in the August 2008 conflict in South Ossetia. They are capable of coping with set tasks not only in the Southern Military District, but at any other spot on the map of Russia.