It’s Rail Force One! Secret ‘Biden train’ was designed and built in Bydgoszcz
Dubbed Rail Force One, it’s been revealed that the interior of the train that delivered President Biden from Poland to Kyiv – and back again – was designed and repurposed in Poland.
Used by over 300 dignitaries since the outbreak of the war, among them Boris Johnson, Angelina Jolie, Emanuel Macron, Bono and Justin Trudeau, the ‘secret’ diplomatic train was renovated in 2005 by PESA Bydgoszcz following a design authored by a team from the Gdańsk Academy of Fine Arts.
Originally re-adapted to serve big-spending tourists visiting Ukraine, the train has since become a vital logistics tool ferrying world leaders to and from Kyiv and other such hotspots.
Known as ‘Amtrak Joe’ owing to his preference for rail travel, the President is thought to have spent 24-hrs in Ukraine, around 20 of which were on board the train.
Poland’s own President, Andrzej Duda, confirmed that he too had previously used it whilst simultaneously revealing a little more about it.
“This is not an armoured train,” said President Duda, “this is just an ordinary train – I’m impressed by the President’s courage and his determination.”
Fitted with special bogies allowing it to travel on different rail widths, the wagon features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room designed for meetings.
Air-conditioned and touting the latest electronic equipment, pictures taken of the President on board the train show a ten-seater conference table, a Chesterfield sofa, striped curtains, and a restrained, neutral colour palette offset by dark wood finishes and navy coloured carpets.
Taken by the Pulitzer-winning photographer Evan Vucci, a photo of the US leader talking on board with his National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, quickly went viral following its circulation on social media.
Using Twitter, Nick Schifrin, the Foreign Affairs and Defence correspondent at PBS, wrote: “Yes, this might be the same train route everyone takes, but this is definitely not the same train everyone takes.”
With Ukraine’s skies unsecured, and the roads unreliable, the train has played a critical role throughout the conflict with the boss of Ukraine’s train network, Oleksandr Kamyshin, crediting it for enabling “iron diplomacy”.
Jakub Karnowski – the former President of Poland’s PKP network, and currently a member of the supervisory board of Ukraine’s rail firm – said that over 500 people had helped organise President Biden’s journey, and that over 100 people had also travelled on the same train.
On his safe return to Poland, President Biden signed and dated a rail poster celebrating Ukrainian-American cooperation.
For their part, PESA Bydgoszcz have said that this is not the only wagon they have refitted that is currently playing a part in the war.
PESA’s spokesman, Maciej Grześkowiak, said: “From the first days of Russian aggression, the president of the Ukrainian Railways has been travelling in a special PESA 610M.
“This is an inspection vehicle, produced in a single copy in 2004 – the head of Ukrainian Railways now uses it as a mobile command centre during the war.”
Impressively, Ukrainian Railways have continued to operate throughout the conflict, with some Polish portals gleefully reporting that Ukraine’s trains recorded a punctuality rate of 86 percent in the third quarter of 2022, a significant improvement over the 65 percent recorded by Poland’s own InterCity trains.