Russia has an extensive rail network. Travelling by train is something most people in Russia feel nostalgic about. One half enjoys long journeys with tea-drinking, eating, opening up to complete strangers and delight in the drifting landscapes from their rooms with a view. The other half refuses to appreciate all this waste of time and prefers to spend it on planes.
Rail tickets are sold 60 days before departure. The earlier you buy your ticket the less it costs, try to do it on the first day. The selling starts at 8 a.m. Moscow time.
Trains in Russia are very different in terms of comfort and cleanliness. Most of them are old and dusty and it can be rather stuffy in summer inside as they have no air conditioning. ‘Russian Railways’ (RZhD) tries to renovate the rolling stock and nowadays more and more new generation (NG) trains appear. They are named ‘firmenny’/фирменный in Russian. These trains have a name and differ from one another; you can expect better conditions there than in the ordinary trains. You can know an NG train by a name in red along with the number (in Russian) on the official site of RZhD.
RZhD strives to introduce fast trains which can be either speedy or have less stops compared to long-distance trains. There are several types of such trains in Russia, all of them have seats instead of berths as it doesn’t take long to reach your destination. All these trains are suitable for people with reduced mobility and have lavatories.
Sapsan/Сапсан – it takes only 4 hours for this train to bring you from Moscow to St. Petersburg or Nizhny Novgorod. The maximum speed of this train can be 250 km/h.
Allegro/Аллегро – connects St. petersburg and Helsinki (3,5 hrs), speed up to 220 km/h..
Lastochka/Ласточка – speed up to 160 km/h, runs on the following routes
St- Petersburg – Veliky Novgorod (Novgorod-na-Volhove) (3 hrs) – Bologoe (3,5 hrs)
St-Petersburg – Petrozavodsk (5 hrs) Trains № 805/806
St Petersburg – Udelnaya – Zenenogorsk – Vyborg (1hr15min) Trains № 7201 to 7208
Moscow – Vladimir – Nizhny Novgorod (4 hrs)
Moscow – Tula – Orel – Kursk (6 hrs)
Moscow – Smolensk (4,5 hrs)
Krasnodar – Adler (5 hrs) Trains № 803/804
Krasnodar – Rostov (3h20m) Trains № 805/806/807/808
Sochi and its surroundings
Adler – Hosta – Sochi – Dagomys – Loo – Lazarevskaia – Tuapse – Hadyjenskaia – – Belorechenskaya -Maikop (5hr25min)
When you buy tickets please note that a single seat is not that comfortable
Strizh/Стриж – connects Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod (3 hr 50 min) Photos: http://goo.gl/mrmOU3. This train is much more expensive compared to Lastochka.
Aeroexpress/Аэроэкспресс – connects cities with airports.
There are also long-distance trains and regional (suburban) trains.
Long-distance trains usually have a dining car and 3 types of carriages with berths:
Platskartny/Плацкартный – Reserved Seat (berths in 2 rows in open space)
Kupe/Купе – Compartment (berths in 2 rows, 4 berths per compartment)
Lyuks/Люкс – Luxury (2 berths per compartment, no upper berths (meals from the dining car in NG trains)
Carriages can also be:
Myagky/Мягкий – Soft (2 berths in 2 rows with private bathroom and meals from the dining car)
Sidyachy/Сидячий – Sitting (a seat, you cannot lie on it)
International trains feature compartments with 3 berths one above another.
Toilets are located at the head and tail of a carriage (better be equipped with your own toilet paper), in an old type of trains toilets are closed during stops and up to one hour before the train approaches a big city (and after). Every berth has an individual light. If there is no socket in your compartment, you can charge your device in the passage. Every carriage has a ‘stewardess’ or ‘steward’ responsible for order and capable of selling you snacks and tea. Hot water is always available for free (opposite the stewardess’ compartment).