Once, huge infrastructure projects like the Trans-Siberian Railway, finished by the beginning of the 20th century, helped to open up Siberia and bring economic rise to a region of huge land mass and resources. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Siberia’s economic heyday finally ended. Today, there is a lack of doctors in the Russian backcountry and a portion of the residents does not have regular access to specialized medical treatment.
The Saint Lukas train is one of five government-funded medical trains that travel to remote towns in central and eastern Russia. Supplying the regions of Krasnoyarsk, Kemerovo and Khakassia, the train of 13 wagons is equipped with a laboratory for blood tests, sonography, devices for brain wave scans and heart rhythm tests, X-ray equipment and a dental surgery. The train runs on two-week journeys, ten times a year, stopping at approximately eight stations on each journey. Usually the areas that the train visits do not completely lack health care, as they have at least one doctor or nurse. The train enables the inhabitants to visit several well-equipped specialists on a single day. The 17 doctors and their assistants examine up to 150 patients a day, seeing about 15 000 patients per year.