This train symbolizes a unique time in Russian history and more importantly focuses on greatly needed infrastructure initiative. Around when this photo was taken, this train was one of the fastest trains produced by Russia. It’s maximum output allowed a top speed of 115 kilometers per hour . This particular train car was produced at the Briansk locomotive factory in 1909 as the number “Ab 132” indicates. This specific type of locomotive, “Ab”, indicates that it comes equipped with a Schmidt super heater . This was at the time an extremely powerful steam engine that provided maximum output for transportation and carriage needs. I believe this photo captures a crucial turning point in Russia’s shift to developing a sustainable domestic infrastructure system. This photo also highlights the strong efforts of Sergei Witte. Witte was the Minister of Finance from 1892-1903 and established his infrastructure initiative from Fredrich List, a German economist who claimed state support is required for creating stronger domestic markets . Witte’s system put railroads as the top priority claiming that these systems were inevitably the “Flywheel of the Economy”. These railroads are crucial to connecting such a large country like Russia. By making it easier and faster to transport goods and connect people across the country, Russia could start creating a stronger domestic market.
Prokudin-Gorskii took this photo in 1910 as part of a large photography initiative to capture the empire in color. This initiative was a large push by Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation to capture all the corners of the empire using the newer forms of transportation. While the precise location is unknown, the style of tracks indicate that it is on the Ural Railway line. Other intriguing parts of this photo are captured in the background. The yellow train car in the back was most likely Prokudin-Gorskii’s “mobile darkroom” which was used to process the color photos. Also, it is hard to notice but part of the train conductors head and body is seen sticking out of the cabin. This photo is a cool reminder of how transportation and photos were captured at this time.
Expansion on domestic infrastructure was key at the time to expand the financial reach of the Russian Empire. While the political reforms were not expanding as fast as the financial reforms, these were crucial steps that required enormous social change from all classes of people. This photo helps to capture this unique shift in such a monumental time in Russian History
(Source  : https://www.wdl.org/en/item/5202/#q=Prokudin+gorskii&page=3 )