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We present image intensified video observations of spectra of persistent meteor trainsduring Leonids 2001. Three distinct phases of the train evolution were found. The first two phasesshow atonric line spectra but both spectra are different by the presence of lines of higher excitationin the second phase. We interpret the first phase, which lasts only few seconds, as a rapid coolingof gas under non-equilibrium conditions. The second phase, lasting tens of second, was found tobe driven by atomic recombinations. The third phase shows continuous spectrum which emergesabout 20 seconds after the train formation and persists for minutes. Several molecular species areprobably responsible for the luminosity but they could not be reliably identifled.