The royal love to cars and trains was insane in tsarist Russia

"While I am in Livadia, automobiles should not appear in the Crimea", Russian czar Nicholas II once said. The use of automobiles on the Crimean Peninsula was prohibited. In 1903, during a visit to relatives in Hesse, the Emperor's brother Ernst Ludwig of Hesse gave Nicholas "a motor ride." After the ride, the czar fundamentally changed his mind about cars and ordered an auto for himself.

Terrorist attacks of revolutionaries against Alexander II and Alexander III led to the fact that any trip of the czar became an event of national importance. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people would thus be attracted to guarantee safety to the czar. For example, a special railway regiment was established to accompany the czar on his railway trips.

In 1890-1893, there were two trains built for Alexander III - one for the czar and one for his entourage, with 10-11 cars in each train. The trains had autonomous power. The cars were equipped with steam heating and even "air conditioners," - the devices that used to be referred to as "wind blowing refrigerators." The air was getting into the pipes filled with salt ice through ventilation openings before flowing into the cars. Four more royal trains were built afterwards.

Guards were placed in the first and in last cars. As soon as the train would stop, the guards would encircle the cars of "Their Majesties." Two twin trains (for the czar and his entourage) would constantly change places when traveling. Thus, in November 1879, terrorists blew up the entourage train thinking that it was the czarist one.

Railway stations were built in a way so that the czar and his family would spend minimum time in the open air when switching trains or taking other types of transport. In Sevastopol, for example, the railway station was built a few meters away from the docks of the South Bay. Having arrived, the czar would have to walk only a few meters from the car to the boat that was expecting him.

The guard of royal trains during the era of Nicholas II was organized at the highest level. The czar was recommended to sleep in the train during short trips to various celebrations in the empire. During a trip in 1913, for celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, the czar and his family would spend the night only in the train or on board their yacht.

In June 1909, Nicholas II was due to arrive at the place of the Battle of Poltava for celebrations connected with the 200th anniversary of the battle. For this occasion, a special railway line was built from Poltava to the battle site. The czar came on his train and spent the night in it. Similarly, in the summer of 1912 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino, another special railway line of two miles was built from Borodino train station to the royal train.

A number of historians and ethnographers of St. Petersburg say that there was even an underground railway system built for Czar Nicholas. Of course, it was not a full-fledged underground system as we know it, but an underground passage with an electric cart from the Alexander Palace. This version has a right to exist. It took researchers quite a time to disclose the secrets of the Alexander Palace, as there was a top-secret office situated there, right until 2012.

During the first years of his reign, Nicholas II had a negative attitude to "self-propelled carriages." "As long as I live in Livadia, automobiles should not appear in the Crimea," - the czar said once. Indeed, the use of vehicles on the peninsula was prohibited before 1903. The czar changed his mind, when his brother gave him a "motor ride." In the spring of 1909, in Oreanda (near Livadia) a garage for two royal cars was built. A year later, a large garage for 25 vehicles was built in Livadia. Nowadays, this place is taken by the garage of Yalta taxicabs. By 1914, there were about 50 cars in the royal garage, which was more than any other monarch had in the world.

When the monarch was traveling around the country, his cars were transported on conventional open platforms. In 1914, there were two special railway cars built for the czar's automobiles. On the territory of royal residences, Nicholas II preferred to ride in open cars.

When the czar was traveling by railway, guards would stand along the entire route, in every ten meters. They would open fire without warning on anyone who would approach the tracks. They would open fire even at boats or rafts passing underneath railway bridges. Nearly every trip of the czar would end up with innocent victims. 

Highways would be defended similarly when royal cars were traveling on them. In the Yaroslavl province, in May 1913, the czar was supposed to travel on a 14-mile long road. To guarantee security for the royal passengers, governor Dmitry Tatishchev asked for "two high-class regiments, three police sergeants, 116 horsemen and 312 guards."

In 1911, when Nicholas II was traveling from Kiev to Ovruch, soldiers and cavalry guards were placed for 43 km along the road, in every five meters, in a checkerboard pattern. The guards would carefully examine all the buildings, in which the czar was staying on the route. There were 4,135 soldiers involved in the operation.

When the czar was traveling by car, traffic would be stopped entirely along the route. Passers-by were forbidden to cross the street.

There were documents preserved that said that Nicholas II, his wife and daughters traveled in July 1903 to worship the relics of St. Seraphim Sarovsky in the Tambov province. Preparations for the trip took several months. Ultra-precise maps of the way of the royal motorcade had been prepared in advance. All roads and bridges were repaired - 15,000 rubles were assigned for the purpose. Arches were built on the entrance to each village.

Tens of thousands of people - soldiers, police and volunteer guards - were used to protect the czar.

Alexander Shirokorad


Read the original in Russian 


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov