MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin has publicly criticized his government for allowing a business dispute to scrap commuter trains in provincial Russia.
Commuter trains, a key transport link between small towns and villages, have been cut down in a number of regions in the past few weeks, and abandoned completely in one of them.
Local administrations have failed to find common ground with the railroad monopolist over who should shoulder the mounting costs of the economically unviable trains.
Anxious to prevent protests, Putin on Wednesday came down hard on the government for allowing this to happen.
"Have you gone mad?" Putin said on television. "This is not serious. This affects thousands of people."
Trains were suspended even on new routes in Sochi built for the 2014 Olympics.