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July 17, 2006

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Colin Alberts

I'd probably feel a twinge of melancholy myself about your description if I hadn't been cursing Amtrak earlier yesterday.

More seriously though, you say the station was used for communter trains. But what is the current status of intercity rail passenger transport in the Caucasus? If it still exists, does it connect to either the Russian or Turkish systems? Is it possible (not to say advisable) to ride the rails over long distances in those parts?

Andreas Morlok

>Second impression: garbage. The tracks are a >popular spot for fly dumping.

But that seems to be the case nearly everywhere -
OK, at least also in Germany and Britain.

Except Japan (of course), not even the tiniest pieces of grabage or even scrap metal along the tracks.

Andreas

Mitch H.

I think it's a function of whether the tracks are used for human transport, or just industrial purposes. There's a haulage rail that runs through my mountain town, with a number of side-tracks for various purposes, which I use to get to the town in the next valley over. While it is, indeed, kind of annoying to walk along tracks, you don't see the kind of rubbish and garbage that Doug describes.

Part of it might be that the local fly-fishermen use the tracks to get from place to place along the local creek by the railside, but most of it is that it's not easy to get to a track which only shifts gravel and coal and the like, and nobody's going to walk a mile to dump their trash by the tracks when they can just sneak over to one of the abandoned limestone quarry pits & fling it quickly over the edge.

Now the abandoned quarry pits - those are disgusting. Full of rubbish tips. But luckily, they're on the backend of nowhere, difficult to get into, and are technically private-property and well-marked with "no trespassing" signs to boot.

Noel Maurer

Andreas,

I feel the need to defend the developed nations here. I've never been to Armenia, of course, but I have travelled recently in the Philippines and Trinidad, and I have spent some time in Mexico. The level of trash dumped alongside roads and train tracks is quite a bit higher than anything I've ever seen in Britain, just as the amount of trash in Britain is a bit (not extravagantly) higher than in the United States.

You're not wrong, of course, people do dump garbage on train tracks (and roadsides) in Western Europe. But if Armenia is anything like the Philippines or Trinidad, the scale of the problem is much much much higher.

Doug M.

Much much is about right. I would say there's about a dump truck full of garbage every couple of hundred yards.

The line was once used for industrial purposes; there are spurs going into abandoned factories. But it's strictly for passenger transport now, two small trains a day.


Doug M.

Christian Garbis

Armenians like to dump garbage anywhere they can, even in pits or holes in and around there own neighborhoods. Strange phenomenon, apparently random dumping did not exist in Soviet times.

As far as the railways go, obviously there are in serious disrepair. It takes about 12 hours to get to Tbilisi from Yerevan by train, usually a five hour ride by car. Supposedly a railway link from Armenia to Russia via Georgia will be restored in the next couple of years....

Bernard Guerrero

But also, the tracks went past abandoned factories, now rusting and empty. It was evening, and windy. The red light of sunset gave the rusting metal a peculiarly dark and dreary look, while the wind sent plastic bottles jumping and bouncing along the ground.

Something vaguely romantic about that picture, in the classical sense. Might just be my northern Jersey upbringing talking.

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