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It’s BlaBlaCar, not BlaBlaTrain! Locomotive driver suspended for selling rides to carpool app users

It’s BlaBlaCar, not BlaBlaTrain! Locomotive driver suspended for selling rides to carpool app users
An attempt to earn extra cash has cost a locomotive driver dearly, after it was revealed that he used carpooling app BlaBlaCar to find himself passengers, who then traveled in the driver’s cabin, in violation of security protocol.

Russian Railways has said that an internal probe has confirmed that unauthorized passengers had been transported in the crew cabin of a train traveling from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. The locomotive driver, who committed the violation, was suspended, the company said, but added that he may still be allowed to return to his duties.

An internal investigation was initiated after media reports claimed that a man, who’d booked a journey between Russia’s two largest cities that started from Moskovsky train station, was stunned to be greeted by none other than the train driver.

However, the passenger decided not to give up on the cheap trip, which cost him just 1,300 rubles (around $21). Train tickets between St Pete and Moscow are usually priced from 2,000 to 7,000 rubles ($32 to $111), depending on comfort and accommodation.

And he wasn’t the only one to whom the industrious train driver offered a lift: there were at least two unauthorized travelers in the train’s crew cabin during the journey, according to reports.

BlaBlaCar said that it was aware that its service, which connects drivers and passengers willing to share the cost of a trip, had been misused, adding that the account of the train driver had been blocked after the incident.

When the news of unauthorized passengers traveling in the cabin of a train with hundreds of people aboard first emerged, it was considered by many to be a hoax, especially with the heightened security measures that have been introduced on transport in Russia.

The route between Saint Petersburg and Moscow had been the target of a high-profile terrorist attack in 2009. Back then, a bomb was laid under the Nevsky Express high-speed train as it was passing near the town of Bologoye in the Tver Region, the halfway point of the journey. The explosion caused the derailment of four carriages; 28 people were killed and almost a hundred injured.

Also on rt.com Deadliest terrorist attacks on Russia’s transportation systems in recent years

BlaBlaCar arrived in Russia in 2014 and instantly gained huge popularity. With a million users signing up with the app in the first ten months, it became the best launch for the French company in any country.

But the rapid expansion of the carpooling service faced resistance from local transport operators. Several lawsuits against it had been filed, with the latest one to be reviewed by a Moscow court in early August. A company from the city of Astrakhan on the Volga River insisted in its lawsuit that BlaBlaCar should be banned for allowing the operations of illegal carriers.

Earlier in June, Russia’s Transport Ministry presented a draft law to regulate the operations of BlaBlaCar drivers. The proposed rules forbid them from making more than two paid trips per day and having more than five passengers at a time. However, the rules didn’t mention trains in any way.

Also on rt.com 550 commercial pilots suspended amid ‘serious problems’ in Russian aviation – Prosecutor General

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