There is an extensive railway running through and around the Chernobyl zone.
Originally part of the Chernihiv – Ovruch Railway, construction began in 1928 as part of the Soviet Union’s Southwestern Railways (PZZ) modernisation program. Passenger and freight services ran until 1986 when Chernobyl Reactor 4 exploded.
After 26 April 1986, once things had settled down the line was closed between Ovruch and Yaniv, however electrification work was completed in 1988 between Chernihiv and Semikhody. Further evidence of the Soviet Union’s intentions for people to move back to Pripyat.
An interesting point to note about the line, is that after leaving Slavutych the railway passes through Belarus before entering the Belarusian exclusion zone, then crossing back into Ukraine within the exclusion zone and heading towards Chernobyl.
Until 1986, the entire line was served by regional and long-distance trains such as the Moscow – Khmelnytskyi express service. Now, it is used by a few trains each day from Slavutych to Chernobyl for official workers and visitors to the zone and various freight trains picking up or dropping off loads at the power plant.
Iolcha is the only functioning station on the line in Belarus. There are three abandoned stations, the only one of interest being Kaporenka where there was a siding and a decontamination facility.
The line then re-enters Ukraine. It passes over the Pripyat River and past a branch to the new Semikhody terminal station.
Built in 1988, the Semikhody terminus that replaces the station with the same name on the mainline. It is located in front of the power plant and is the terminus for electric trains and passenger working.
Continuing on the main line, there is first an industrial siding for the Chernobyl Plant and, after the so-called Bridge of Death, a second siding, just before Yaniv, the main station of Pripyat.
The industrial line, which runs a loop around the nuclear plant passing between the 4 reactors and next to the cooling pond, is partially active because it allows goods and materials to be moved around the plant.
In 2018 further tracks were brought into use to assist with the decommissioning process.