A Moscow Times article on one of the results of the rapidly ongoing updating of Russian railways: Russia's First Double-Decker Train Departs to Adler. Such double-deckers, by the way, are not an uncommon sight in mainland Europe. As is their wont, though, those at MT have to add a little negative spin to the story, thus: "The trains' toilets can be accessed throughout the entire journey, a welcome departure from toilets in older trains where access is barred at stops in order to dump the facilities' contents on the tracks." A "welcome departure"? So where else does the writer of this article think the contents of a train toilet are flushed out during a journey? In any country in the world (well at least those in Europe through which I have travelled by train, and they are many) there are stern notices in train toilets warning passengers not to flush the toilets whilst the train is standing at a station. Notwithstanding such a warning in Russian train toilets, as a train is approaching a scheduled stop, just to make sure that this toilet regulation is obeyed, the guard in every carriage - and the guard is the lord/mistress of all he/she surveys in his/her domain - locks the toilet doors at each end of the corridor. Perhaps the above quoted MT line just reveals its writer's ignorance of railway travel, for if the journalist who wrote it is a US citizen, then in my experience he may well know very little about train journeys. I once remember when on a train journey from Stuttgart to Munich being asked by some US tourists who were my travelling companions: "How will we know when we have arrived at Munich?" and "How do we stop the train when we want to get off?" I doubt if many of MT's US-expat readers have ever travelled by train in Russia - or anywhere else for that matter. Early this last summer my family and I travelled along the same route along which this new double-decker service is scheduled to run. The train was state-of-the-art: was air conditioned throughout, had telephones, showers: a bar: and a restaurant. We had waitress service, my wife having considered that it would be less troublesome for our gang to eat in our sleeping/travelling compartment, so at mealtimes a stewardess: brought our food and drink there, and very tasty it was too. We didn't have a compartment with a toilet and shower, though I have travelled in one of these on the Moscow-St.Petersburg express, but the toilets on our train this summer were absolutely spotless. And of course, from the coal-fired samovar: adjacent to the guard's berth at one end of the corridor, there was hot water on hand around the clock in order to make glasses of Russian tea: Upper Volta with nuclear weapons?