Russian Trains Experience

Are you looking for guidance on how to book a train ticket in Russia without spending additional fees? Do you want to explore Russia by train or just look for transportation between Moscow and St. Petersburg?

Here are few tips you should now before choosing the booking platform and the ticket type.

1. Book through the official site of the Russian Railway company RZD

Book through the main Russian Railway Site RZD. This is the only site that won’t charge you additional fees as various third party companies.  Unfortunately their site won’t appear as the first result when looking for “Russian trains” in Google. Many tourist click on the first option and book there for much more money. I did it unfortunately as well since you can’t really notice the difference between these sites if no one told you before. The third party companies are of course also more “English” friendly. However the RZD site also runs in English.

Russian trains Google Search result
Here are the results of the Google search if you look to book a train ticket in Russia
Official Russian Railway Site
Official Russian Railway Site

As you can see the official railway company site looks like every other train booking site. Choose your trip and then follow the steps to proceed through the registration and payment.

2. Book in advance

If you book 45 days prior your trip you often get a discount.

3. Chose from various train types and classes 

(Guide on how to read a Russian ticket check

There are several different types of train used on the Russian rail network that can vary greatly from European trains. These are very brief descriptions of each. The icons are how you will see the train represented in the Real Russia booking system, the Cyrillic characters are how you will find the train represented on the train ticket itself.

  • Firmeny–  – ФИРМ – These are the highest quality trains on the Russian network; running on the most popular routes, with the best services and staff.
  • Skory–  – СК – These are fast sleeper trains used for many of the long distance routes. They possess better facilities than regular passenger trains, though they are not quite of the standard of Firmeny trains.
  • Skorostnoj–  – СКРСТ – These are the quickest trains on the Russian network, serving MoscowSaint Petersburg and Nizhny Novogorod. They offer European style seating, but no sleeper carriages.

fast train to St. Petersburg

  • Passazhirsky–  – ПАСС – Passenger trains cover a wide variety of routes, stopping at nearly every station. This means that they are the slowest sleeper trains on the network; though it does mean they offer the greatest opportunity to get off the beaten track.

There are many variations on the carriage classes available on the Russian train network. Generally tickets are split into three categories, with variations within each of these:

  • Spalny Vagon (First Class) – Each cabin has two lower berths, that act as seating during the day, with nine of these cabins in each carriage. The best services and staff are usually found on First Class.
  • Coupe (Second Class) – Each cabin has four berths, two lower, and two upper. During the day the two lower berths will act as seating. There are nine of these cabins per carriage. Good services and staff are usually found on Second Class.
Russian train Coupe
Russian train Coupe
  • Platzkart (Third Class) – The carriages are open plan, with no doors on any compartment. Within each compartment there are four berths in the same layout as Second Class, with two additional berths lining the corridor wall, one up, one down. All lower berths act as seating during the day. The most basic of services are offered on Third Class.
As you can see, blankets and bed linen are provided

4. Go for the Platzkart

I traveled in nearly all train types and almost all train classes. The comfortability is of course noticeable but if you are a student on a budget, visiting Russia. Go for the Platzkart, it’s not the most comfortable way, you sleep with dozens more passengers, you won’t get much sleep and there is only one toilet for the whole wagon. But it’s the cheapest way to travel and that way you can often meet locals and learn something from them. (Much better than tour guides) You can even find a website about Platzkart stories.

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