How to Travel by Russian Trains
Trains in Russia are the most reliable mean of transportation: they can get you almost to any part of the country, they are always on time and they are safe. In this post you will read about Russian trains, going the far distance: the regular ones and fast ones, like Sapsan.
Regular Russian trains
Regular Russian trains have 3 classes of accommodation:
1 class (SV or “myagkiy”)
– with 2 berths in the compartment, 9 compartments per carriage. Usually is used by luxury travelers who don’t want to go by plane or go to a destination where planes don’t fly.
2 class (coupe)
– with 4 berths in the compartment, 2 upper berths, and 2 lower berths. There is a small table in between berths. In the compartment there is general lightening and additional above each berth there is a personal lamp which one can use for reading. There is enough space for luggage: for upper beds there is space above, and for lower beds space under the berth. The compartment can be closed from inside, which is usually done for the night time. This class recommended for foreign travelers, as it has a competitive price and a nice level of comfort.
3 class (plazkart)
– 54 bunks in the open-space of the carriage arranged in bays per 4 bunks from one side of the aisle and 2 bunks from the other side of the aisle. This class is recommended for adventure travelers and backpackers.
Not depending on the class of accommodation each carriage has two toilets with sinks. Normally in new trains toilets are open at all time. Though if you are traveling by older trains, toilets will be closed during so-called sanitary zones, there is the timetable of them available inside of the carriage.
In each carriage, there is a train assistant, which mail role is to look after the specific carriage. This person will check your tickets when getting into the train, then after the train starts may offer you a cup of Russian tea (‘tchai’), near 25 RUB. You can approach him or her with a general question about your trip (e.g. when the train arrives to which station, you may ask to awake you if you arrive at the stop at night time). Train assistant takes the separate compartment, where you can find him/her anytime, also buy from him tea and some snacks.
In each carriage, there is a big kettle of hot water, so any time you can have tea. Also when traveling for far destinations people usually buy instant food (noodles, potatoes) and make them ready with water from this kettle. So before your train go to a supermarket to buy some food for the train. Think how many meals you are going to have on the train and depending on this buy some cheese, bread, salami, smoked chicken, tea or coffee, water and of course instant food, like noodles, note that smoked food can stay long without the fridge. And keep in mind that on a train you are always hungry, or just want to chew something, so take some snacks with you.
What is more, Russian trains have a carriage with a restaurant, in many cases quality of food there is not excellent and prices are above average, so think twice before going there.
How to sleep on Russian trains?
The price for bed sheets is included in the price of each ticket to the train . Usually, you can find them already on the berth, in a plastic bag, when getting on the train. If they are not there, ask your train assistant. A pillow, blanket, and mattress usually lie on the upper shelf. It is more or less comfortable to sleep on a train, luckily your neighbor won’t snore.
Are Russian trains safe?
Yes, they are! It is safe to travel by Russian trains for any kind of travelers, including female solo travelers and families. Of course, keep in mind general safety recommendations: don’t leave valuables when you are not around; close your compartment for the night-time when traveling by 1st and 2nd class.
More about “life on a train”
In general, people behave nicely on a train and looking forward to communicate, because they have a long way and not much of entertainment. So be ready that you will be asked about your life, and where are you going and what not; and be ready to listen to the stories of other travelers. It is normal if someone proposes you to share food, and it is okay to say “yes”. So enjoy your time on the train! It can be fun!
Fast Russian trains.
There are several destinations, where fast trains operate:
1. Moscow – St Petersburg, train Sapsan.
It is 4 hours on the way instead of 8 hours, tickets for economy class start from 2500 RUB. We recommend it to everyone who had an idea to travel by plane from St Pete to Moscow or another way, because with Sapsan it is actually faster! Because it will take you from the city center to city center, so you skip the way to airports which are in suburbs and time for security check and registrations.
2. St Petersburg – Helsinki, train Allegro.
It is 3,5 hours on the way, tickets for economy class start from 2000 RUB.
3. Moscow – Nizhniy Novgorod, train Lastochka.
It is 4 hours on the way instead of 6 hours, tickets start from 1000 RUB. Ticket of the economy class provides you with a comfortable arm-chair, with flexible back and handles, also personal lightening and table are at your service. In every carriage, there is space for luggage and a toilet.
Experience Russian trains yourself! Travel across Russia along the Trans-Siberian Railway or admire stunning Russian nature on the Baikal Lake. If you are afraid of distances, you can always start with a shorter trip between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Every single time in Russian trains is an unforgettable journey! Read more about travelling on Russian trains in our Essential Trans-Siberian Railway Guide.
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