Frequently Asked Questions about Russian Train Travel

Rail travel in Russia can be a daunting prospect, whether that is due to the language barrier, the culture barrier, or just the potentially complex nature of ordering the tickets. Due to this our travel experts are asked questions on a daily basis, and are also given helpful feedback too. To help answer those we have put together a list of the most frequently asked questions about Train travel (if you have any questions regarding buying a train ticket, please visit our information page on buying Russian train tickets). If you have a question that isn’t answered here, or if you have experiences that you feel may be helpful to others, feel free to contact us.

Is Russian rail travel safe?

Millions of people, both Russian locals and tourists, travel safely on Russian trains every year. In many ways, they are the safest trains to travel on.

  • Each carriage is looked after 24 hours a day by at least one or two attendants, known locally as provodnistas.
  • Each passenger must show their ticket upon entry, and present with it an official identification document; for foreign visitors, this will usually be a passport.
  • At every stop trains are checked to ensure there is no damage.

With regards to remaining safe and secure, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has the following to say:

  • If you are travelling by overnight train in a sleeping compartment, store valuables in the container under the bed or seat. Don’t leave your sleeping compartment unoccupied as some compartments only have a simple lock on the sliding door. On some trains, there may be an additional security device, which can be attached to the fitted handle/lock unit. There may also be a steel switch at head-height on the door panel which, when pulled down, prevents the closed door from being slid open.
  • Don’t agree to look after the luggage of a fellow traveller or allow it to be stored in your compartment.

Where are the train stations in Moscow, and which destinations do they serve?

There are nine major train stations in Moscow, all served by the Metro on the circle line. Each station serves a different direction, making turning up at the right station before you travel slightly easier. If you are worried that you may turn up at the wrong station, remember to check the English itinerary that Real Russia will have sent with your tickets; this will state your departure station. Alternatively, you could book a transfer from your accommodation to the correct station, ensuring you will arrive at the correct place, in plenty of time.

The Russian translation for both the station name and its nearest Metro have been included to help when navigating in Moscow.


Belorussky Station




Kalliningrad, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic and some trains to Latvia.


7 Tverskaya Zastava Ploshchad


(495) 251-6093






Kazansky Station




Central Asia, Ryzan, Ufa, Samara, Kazan, Ulan-Ude and Novorossiisk.


2 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad


(499) 266-3181






Kievsky Station




Western Ukraine, Southeastern Europe and Vnukovo Airport.


1 Ploshchad Kievskogo Vokzala


(499) 240-0415






Kursky Station




Southern Russia, Caucasus nations, Eastern Ukraine, and Crimea.


29 Ulitsa Zemlyanoi Val


(495) 266-5310


Kurskaya/Chakalovskaya stations


Курская / Чкаловская


Leningradsky Station




Estonia, Finland, St. Petersburg and northwestern Russia.


3 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad


(495) 262-9143






Paveletsky Station




Voronezh, Tambov, Volgograd, Astrakhan and Domodedovo Airport.


1 Paveletskaya Ploshchad


(495) 235-0522






Savyolovsky Station




Kostroma, Cherepovets, some trains to Vologda and Sheremetyevo Airport.


2 Ploshchad Savyolovskogo Vokzala


(499) 266-8901






Yaroslavlsky Station




Siberia, the Russian Far East, Mongolia and China.


5 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad


(800) 775-0000






Rizhsky Station






1 Rizhskaya Pl


(495) 631-1588





Where are the train stations in Saint Petersburg, and which destinations do they serve?

There are five major train stations in Saint Petersburg, all of which are easily accessible by the Metro. Each station serves a different direction, making turning up at the right station before you travel slightly easier. If you are worried that you may turn up at the wrong station, remember to check the English itinerary that Real Russia will have sent with your tickets; this will state your departure station on. Alternatively, you could book a transfer from your accommodation to the correct station, ensuring you will arrive at the correct place, in plenty of time.

The Russian translation for both the station name and its nearest Metro have been included to help when navigating in Saint Petersburg.


Moskovsky Station




Moscow, far north, Central Asia, Crimea and the Caucasus region.


85 Nevsky Av


(812) 457-4428


Ploshchad Vosstaniya or Mayakovskaya


Площадь Восстания/ Маяковская


Finlyandsky Station




Helsinki and other destinations in the north west.


5 Lenin Square


(812) 436-6746


Ploschad Lenina


ППлощадь Ленина


Baltiysky Station




Local and suburban services.


120 Nab. Obvodnogo Kanala


(812) 457-2859






Vitebsky Station




Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Odessa.


32 Zagorodny Av


(812) 457-5939






Ladozhsky Station




Murmansk, Volgoda and Yekaterinburg.


73 Zanevsky Pr.


(812) 436-5310





What are the other major stations on the Russian rail network (including Trans-Siberian routes), and which destinations do they serve?

There are hundreds of train stations across the Russian rail network. Included here are the stations for some of the more popular destinations throughout Russia and along the Trans-Siberian railway.

The local translation for both the station name and its nearest Metro (where appropriate) have been included to help when navigating.


Nizhny Novgorod


Станция Нижний Новгород-Московский


Moscow, Siberia, Mongolia and China.


2 Revolyutsii Square


(831) 248-3723


Moskovskaya Station








Moscow, Siberia, Mongolia and China.


Vokzal'naya Street


(343) 358-3210


Uralskaya Station








Moscow, Siberia, Germany, Mongolia and China.


43 Shamshurina Street


(383) 229-2039


Garina Mikhailovskogo Station


Гарина Михайловского


Irkutsk Train Station




Moscow, Siberia, Mongolia and China.


1 Chelnokova Street


(3952) 6370-22


Vladivostok Train Station




Siberia and Western Russia.


2 Aleutskaya St


(4232) 2477-51


Ulan-Bator Train Station




All domestic and international routes.


1 Khoroo




Beijing Railway Station




Manchuria, Shanghai, Inner Mongolia and international routes.


Beijing Station E St



Metro Line 2 - Beijing Railway station
Translation 北京火車站

If I need to collect paper tickets, or exchange E-Tickets, where do I go?

If you need to collect, or exchange, tickets, it is best to ensure you leave yourself plenty of time as the queues can be quite long and the cashiers take regular breaks (signs will inform you of when these occur). Also ensure that you have all relevant documentation with you as the cashiers are unlikely to speak English, making it very difficult to explain your situation if you have forgotten anything.

The ticket desks are usually clearly marked in each station; guidance on where they can be found in some of the major cities can be found on our  Electronic Tickets and Registration page.

Many Russian stations also offer self-service ticket machines now. These are reasonably easy to use, and often lack the queues that are common at the manned ticket kiosks. They also have the advantage of being available 24 hours a day.

It is worth noting that you can collect your tickets at any time upon arrival in Russia; not just within a few hours of travelling. Collecting tickets in advance can save the stress of waiting in a queue while the departure time edges closer.

Depending on the trains you book, international paper tickets can be collected from Moscow, Ulan Bator, Beijing and other international cities. Also, we can arrange for your tickets to be delivered to your home or office address.

Please make sure to check the possible delivery options with our Travel Specialists before booking the tickets. 

How do I find my platform and board the train when I arrive at the station?

Upon arriving at the station, you will generally find that there is an electronic departure board showing the train number (отправление), its destination, and the departure time and platform. Some smaller stations do still use paper noticeboards for their rail timetables. While some of the larger stations do now show English translations, bear in mind that generally, your destination will be written in the Cyrillic alphabet, so it is worth learning the name of your destination in Russian to avoid any confusion or stress. Russia uses a numeral system that most will be familiar with, so reading the train number, platform and time should not be an issue.

Once you know which platform you will be departing from, head through the departure hall, following signage where available, to the main platform area. Each platform will be clearly numbered, with some also possessing electronic boards that show information about the train that is currently present.

If you find that you are early and the train has yet to arrive, you will be able to use one of the waiting areas within the station. If you choose to do this, remain alert as all announcements will be in Russian, so you may miss the announcement for your train. Alongside learning your destination’s name in written Russian, it may also be worth learning it in spoken Russian too.

When the time comes to board the train, you will find your carriage by checking the numbers on the doors leading into the train. At the entrance to the carriage will be one of the provodnistas who will check that all your documents (passport/ID card, and tickets/voucher) are in order before allowing you entry.

There will be porters around the station who will be willing to help with any baggage you are unable to carry. They will often charge around 200 roubles or more for each item, though they have been known to ask for more if they feel that you can afford it.

Are the trains punctual?

Yes, Russian trains are almost always punctual. This is particularly impressive for trains that cross international borders along the way, such as trains 4 and 20 heading for Beijing.

When can I board my train?

You can board your train up to 30 minutes before it departs from the station. We recommend that you do board at this time, so that you are not in a panicked rush, and have time to get settled before the journey begins.

Will passport and custom checks take place as I board the train?

Your passport will be checked as you board the train as a form of ID check, to ensure you are the named passenger on the ticket. This check is not to permit you to move between countries. 

All passport and custom checks to travel into a new country take place at the border between the two countries you are travelling through. Generally, each country will undertake their own checks, taking several hours in each case. 

What happens if I miss my train?

If you find yourself late for your train, you will need to purchase a new ticket for the next train if you would still like to make your journey.

Within three hours of the departure time it is still possible to cancel the ticket and receive part of the price back as a refund. Unfortunately, it is not possible to do this at the station itself. You will need to follow the instructions provided in our Buying Rail Tickets Guide, and contact us so we can assist.

If you have stored your baggage on-board before getting off again (to purchase snacks for instance), and it leaves before you return, you will need to speak to the Station Master immediately. He will then attempt to help you resolve this issue.

If you require any help at all, call our 24-hour emergency support service on +44 (0) 207 100 7370.

What happens if I lose my ticket?

The following information is valid only for tickets where the journey is wholly within Russia.

If you have lost your ticket, or merely damaged it, it may not be possible to replace it. For instance, you may be travelling late at night when ticket offices may not be open. Always try, though, as generally the station staff will be as helpful as possible.

If you opted for Electronic Registration, you can just re-print your voucher.

If you opted for an Electronic Ticket, and lose, or damage it before exchanging it for your paper ticket, you will just need to re-print your voucher. If loss or damage occurs after this, once you have your paper ticket, you can pay a fee (usually around 500 roubles) to have the ticket re-issued.

If you are travelling with a paper ticket, you can pay a fee (usually around 500 roubles) to have the ticket re-issued.

If you require any help at all, call our 24-hour emergency support service on +44 (0) 207 100 7370.

What are the different types of train?

Russian trains usually fall into one of five categories, an overview for each of them is provided here. For further information, please visit our page on Russian Train Types.

  • High-speed (скоростной) – The fastest trains on the Russian network; this includes trains such as the Sapsan between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, as well as Moscow and Nizhniy Novgorod, and the slightly slower Allegro running between Saint Petersburg and Helsinki.
  • Firmeny (фирменный) – Running on the most popular routes, Firmeny trains offer the best services, facilities and staff of all Russian trains. They are long distance trains that reach their destination much quicker than other trains on the same route due to stopping at fewer stations en-route. Firmeny trains are generally named, and have a low number, i.e. train 2, the Rossiya.
  • Fast/Skory (скорый) – Long distance trains that are not quite the equal of the Firmeny trains. They generally take a little longer to arrive at their destination because they will stop at more stations along the route. Because of this they are usually somewhat cheaper.
  • Passenger (пассажирский) – Passenger trains generally run on shorter routes than either Firmeny or Skory trains. They are a step down again from Skory trains, both in quality and speed (they tend to stop at all the stations along their route). These are the cheapest of all Russian trains. They can often be identified by their high number.
  • Elektrichka – Otherwise known as local commuter trains, they run to and from the suburban areas of major cities. They are all seated and vary greatly in quality.

How are the train carriages laid out?

There are several different carriage layouts that most of the trains in Russia stick to. Some may vary slightly, and some of the privately owned trains (such as the Grand Express) may vary greatly but, as a rule, the following descriptions are accurate in most cases. You can find more detailed information on our Carriage Classes page.

First Class - Sleeper

First class carriages are made up of nine cabins, each for two people sharing; though sole occupancy is possible if you buy both tickets. There are usually two lower berths in each cabin that can transform between couch and bed with a small table between them. Occasionally one berth may be above the other, in which case only the bottom bed will transform in to a couch. At each end of the carriage are toilets with washing facilities. A provodnista will have a room in the carriage from where they will ensure the carriage is tidy, and that all travellers have a point of contact for any problems.

Layout of a first class sleeper carriage

First Class - Seated

Seated first class carriages can generally be found on the Sapsan and Allegro trains. They offer extended leg space and are laid out in much the same way as European trains; with one or two seats either side of an aisle. Luggage space can usually be found to the rear of the carriage.

Second Class - Sleeper

Second class is made up of nine cabins in much the same way as first class, though there are four people to a cabin rather than two. It is possible for two passengers to buy two tickets each to approximate the feeling of First Class on a much smaller budget. There are two lower bunks that, like first class, perform the function of being both a couch and a bed, with two additional fold out bunks above these; again, there is a table between the bottom two bunks. At each end of the carriage are toilets with washing facilities. A provodnista will have a room in the carriage from where they will ensure the carriage is tidy, and that all travellers have a point of contact for any problems.

Layout of second class sleeper carriage

Second Class - Seated

Second class seats are laid out in a standard European train configuration with two sets of two seats separated by a small aisle. The seats are comfortable, though without the added leg room of first class. Luggage space can usually be found at either end of the carriage.

Third Class - Sleeper

Third class is made up of ‘open cabins’, each with space for up to six people. Each ‘cabin’ offers the same two up, two down layouts as second class (though the beds do not fold up, or become sofas) with two additional bunks in the corridor, one above the other. Up to 54 people can travel in each carriage. At either end of each carriage are toilets with washing facilities.

Layout of third class sleeper carriage

What are ‘gender specific’ cabins?

On the many trains travelling the Russian, and Trans-Siberian, rail network, it is possible to travel in a male, or female, only cabin. This may be of interest to lone female travellers who may feel awkward, or unsafe, sharing a room with men they do not know.

You can only mark a cabin for single gender use if it is currently empty. If there are any bookings at all this will not be possible. Once a cabin has been selected for single gender use it is not possible to change it back again. Please bear this in mind if you are travelling with, or potentially travelling with, a member of the opposite sex.

We cannot guarantee that single gender cabins will be available. The earlier you book the more likely it is that you will be successful in creating a single gender cabin.

Not all countries that have connections with the Russian rail network operate single gender cabins. So, if you travel outside of Russia in a single gender cabin, you may find that the cabin becomes open to all again once you have crossed the border. If you are worried that this may be the case, please contact our travel experts for further advice.

You will find gender specific cabins in our booking system by looking for tickets marked with Sex Icon.

Are there disabled facilities?

On select trains travelling between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, such as the Sapsan, there are carriages designed to enable those with disabilities to enjoy rail travel; with wider corridors and toilet facilities as well as larger cabins.

There are several long-distance trains equipped with disabled cabins. Where these are available, the entrance to the carriage is equipped with a lift for the passenger(s), enabling those passengers with limited mobility to easily get on, and off, the train.

Wider than a standard cabin, cabins for passengers with disabilities are equipped with special auxiliary belts, allowing the passenger to move around the cabin more freely.

For blind and visually impaired passengers, all switches, power sockets, call buttons, etc. have brail instructions, and a special audio device is available. These devices make it easy to contact he provodnista in case of emergency.

Each disabled cabin is also equipped with its own bathroom facility, which is larger than standard facilities, to give room to those with limited mobility/wheelchairs. To further assist, handrails are provided. It installed additional handrails, and lighting and sound board for passengers who have trouble seeing or hearing.

Most stations have facilities for passengers with disabilities, including disabled toilets, and wheelchair ramps.

If you are concerned that you may be unable to travel, or if you need assistance on getting to the train station and boarding your train, please contact our travel experts for further advice.

Can I travel with children?

Yes, you can. Children are welcome to travel on Russian trains and may receive discounted tickets to do so.

In summary, one child under the age of five may travel for free if they share their place with a paying adult. If the child requires a separate place, or they are aged between 5 and 10, then they are charged at the Child Rate; generally 50% of the regular tic ket price. The discounts apply for the tickets booked within Russia.

For international trains, depending on which one you book, the discount and the age of travel might differ. For example, children up to 3 years old may travel on train 004 free of charge if they share the berth with a full paying adult. For children between 4-11 years of age, there is a discount of 50% from the full ticket price. See our information on child fare’s for international journeys for more details.

When travelling with children on long distance trains, such as those on the Trans-Siberian railway, it is worth remembering that there are several sections with no stops for several hours, so you may want to pack travel games and books to help keep children occupied. In addition, while at border crossings, the toilets may be closed, so it is worth looking up the timings prior to travel to work around these times.

Please note: When boarding the train, the child must show either their own passport, be listed in their parent’s passport or have a copy, and translation, of their birth certificate. If the child is listed in a parent’s passport, a photograph must be included for the child to be allowed entry to the train.

On long distance trains, is bedding provided?

Yes. In both second and third class, you will find these either on your bunk, or they will be passed out upon boarding the train. They will come in a sealed packet, and you will need to make your own bed. In first class your bed should be made for you.

The bedding will include a top and bottom sheet, as well as a pillowcase and a towel.

What are the bathroom facilities like?

In general, they are very basic, but suit their purpose. Each bathroom will consist of a toilet and a wash basin. The quality can vary depending on the type of train selected, and the class of ticket purchased. On some of the privately run trains between Moscow and Saint Petersburg showers may even be provided in some classes.

Generally, they are clean and stocked with soap and toilet paper, and they are cleaned regularly throughout the journey. They are not perfect though, toilets rarely are. The class you travel in will inform how nice they remain, and how long this is for. Third class carriages, for instance, can have up to 54 passengers to a carriage, and so first thing in the morning when everyone wakes up, they will be quite heavily used, and so more likely to run out of toilet roll.

Remember that on many older trains, because the toilet empties onto the track, the bathroom facilities are locked for up to half an hour before pulling into a station, the entire time the train is stationary, and then for up to half an hour afterwards. This also means that there may be queues in the time leading up to these periods, particularly in second and third class. This is particularly important at border crossings as the train can remain stationary for up to six or seven hours! Be sure to check any schedule that is displayed on the bathroom door so that you can avoid these times.

We recommend that you think about taking bottled water for brushing your teeth, your own hand towel, and even your own toilet roll in case the on-board provodonista have been unable to resupply the bathroom; this is particularly worth remembering in the busier third class, or at times when lots of people may use the facilities, such as first thing in the morning.

Are showers available?

They are available in some luxury cabins aboard trains such as the Grand Express, but generally this is not the case.

Showers are not widely available, unfortunately, on long distance trains; though you may be able to access one on some trains by paying 30 – 50 roubles to your provodonista. It is best to assume there are no showers, and plan accordingly. Wet wipes and antiperspirant work well!

Are food and drink available on the train?

On many long-distance trains, you will find a restaurant car that will serve many freshly cooked local dishes, as well as hot and cold (soft and alcoholic) drinks. These restaurant cars are not open 24 hours a day so, upon boarding, you should check the opening times to ensure that you do not miss out. As is common on Russian trains, the opening times of the restaurant may be in Moscow time, not local time. Something be aware of. The prices vary depending on the train you have chosen, but everything is usually reasonably priced; usually up to £10.

You may also find that a trolley of snacks and bottled drinks is wheeled through the train at regular intervals. These prices can vary from reasonable to high. In place of a drinks trolley, it is often possible to purchase snacks and drinks from the provodnista’s cabin.

In each carriage, you will find a samovar of hot water that you will have unlimited access to. We recommend taking along tea, coffee and foods that can be eaten by just adding water (such as instant soup and noodles) to make the most of this. You can take these items from home, or they are readily available at most stations, or at supermarkets near the stations. Tea and coffee may also be available from the provodonista of your carriage for up to 150 roubles. Though they are unlikely to supply you with milk. The provodnista will also be able to lend you a mug with which to drink your tea/coffee; remember to return it though or the provodnista will not be happy.

If you are lucky enough to make friends with other travellers on-board, particularly Russian travellers, you may be invited to join them, and share their provisions (often home cooked bread or smoked meats) and vodka for dinner in their cabin.

Are food and drink available from stations along the route?

Each station that the train stops at along the way will have kiosks and small shops located in, and around, the departure hall, and platforms, at which you can buy provisions such as instant foods, snacks and bottled drinks, as well as newspapers and magazines. These are unlikely to remain open 24 hours a day (though kiosks on platforms open very late), so be sure to pick up any supplies you would like during any daytime stops.

Of more interest to most are the local traders who often sell their produce from the train platform, or through the windows of each carriage; some may even come on-board! Most of what is on offer is home-made, giving you the opportunity to sample a selection of traditional local food throughout Russia and the Trans-Siberian routes. You will mostly find local cheeses, breads, smoked meats and fresh vegetables, though it is possible to buy branded food and drinks, such as Coca Cola or Milka chocolate.

I have special dietary requirements, will I be able to eat anything?

Most people should be able to find something, though how easy it is will depend on your specific dietary requirements. 

Vegetarians should, generally, not have any problems. While meat dishes are prolific in Russia, and along the Trans-Siberian (particularly in Mongolia), vegetable dishes will usually be available on any menu that you see, and many of the platform traders along the route will be selling home-made bread as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.

Those with a gluten or lactose intolerance should also be ok, provided you take any precautions you may do at home; though in many instances it will probably be safer to purchase fresh food from the platform traders as it may be difficult to ask what is in pre-prepared meals in the restaurant car. 

For any other special dietary requirements, please contact our travel specialists who will do their best to answer any questions that you may have.

Can I smoke on the train?

No. All smoking on-board Russian trains was banned on the 1st June 2014. Be aware though that this is not always strictly enforced, so you may find some locals smoking in the space between carriages. We do not recommend joining them though, as it is illegal.

Can I smoke at train stations?

Since the 1st June 2014 smoking has been banned inside, and within 15 metres of the entrance to, all railway stations in Russia. This ban is also extended to all platforms for suburban trains.

Smoking is still allowed on platforms belonging to long distance trains.

Signage is in place to make clear where you can, and cannot, smoke. Please pay extra attention to any smoking prohibitions as there can be severe fines for anyone breaking these rules.

What is the luggage allowance?

The maximum allowed hand luggage is 36kg for second and third class, 50kg for first class, and the dimensions (height, length and width) cannot exceed a combined total of 180cm.

In addition to the permitted hand luggage, each passenger is permitted to take a briefcase, handbag, a camera, umbrella, and other small items free of charge provide the sum of the three dimensions does not exceed 100 cm.

Bear in mind that you will want to stow your luggage once on-board (in the storage provided under the bottom bunk for instance) and so you will not want it to be too big and bulky as it will not be able to fit.

If you are planning on transporting any luggage, or other object, that is larger than the sizes specified, or otherwise takes up a lot of space, please contact our travel specialists who will be able to advise you on the best course of action as an extra baggage car ticket may be required.

Can I take a bike on-board with me?

While there are rules on the carriage on bicycles on Russian trains, from experience we know that how they are enforced can sometimes depend on the provodnista who is in charge of your carriage.

Generally, though, it is ok to carry bikes on-board. Though obviously the smaller they are, the better. And if they fold up, then better still.

You will be required to store the bike in the baggage car of the train, which is usually located between the train itself and the passenger carriages. There will be an attendant here to check in your bike, who will give you a receipt/ticket, which you must show when you leave the train so you can retrieve your bike.

It is not possible to purchase space in the baggage car when buying your rail tickets, as the cost will depend on the size and weight of the bike, so must be done at the station itself.

If you have booked exclusive use of a cabin, you ‘may’ be able to store the bike in your cabin with you. But this is completely at the discretion of the provodnista of your carriage. If you plan on trying this, be sure to arrive at your train in plenty of time to have this discussion. This will give you time to return to the station to purchase a baggage ticket if you are unsuccessful.

Are there electrical outlets?

In first class there is an electrical outlet in every room, in addition to low power outlets in each bathroom.

In second class there are generally two sockets in the corridor, in addition to low power outlets in each bathroom. In some older carriages, you may only find one outlet. This will be in the corridor, at the top of the bathroom door.

In third class you will only find the low power outlets in the bathrooms.

Outside of first class, the available outlets are in high demand. If you are able, we would advise taking spare batteries for your electrical devices where possible, or investing in a portable travel charger so that you do not need to rely on the power outlets. Taking a travel adapter with multiple USB charging ports is also useful, and a great way to make new friends as you allow other passengers to use it!

Is Wi-Fi available?

On the trains, as a rule, no.

It is available, though, on a small number of trains between Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Helsinki such as the Allegro and Sapsan rail services. The number of routes, and services, on which Wi-Fi is available is increasing all the time.

It is increasingly available in stations though, with almost all major railway stations in Russia now covered. Many do have a sign-up gateway in Russian though, so if you enter any personal details to gain access, be careful you know what you are signing up for.

Do I need to be able to speak Russian to travel on Russian trains?

Not at all. While we would recommend memorising a few stock phrases, it is possible to get by without learning any Russian.

Be aware, though, that outside of the larger cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg, very few people will speak English or other languages, and even less will be written in English or other languages. Even within the major cities you may find use of languages other than Russian limited.

Before leaving for your trip, it may be worth investing in a simple phrase book, or downloading one of the many translation apps available for your mobile devices.

If the language barrier does cause any problems for you, contact one of our travel specialists and they should be able to advise you of the best course of action.

Will I need a visa?

Yes. For any journey within Russia, or along the Trans-Siberian railway, visas will be required. There are a variety of different visas depending on how long you intend to stay in a country, and how many times you intend to leave and re-enter.

Real Russia can assist with several visas, offering professional support at every stage of the visa process.

To make the process even easier, if you are planning on travelling through more than one country on the Trans-Siberian railway, we have put together a special page, outlining the process.

How do I register my visa on a long journey?

If you arrive in Russia before continuing very soon after to your destination, such as arriving in Moscow on Saturday before leaving for Vladivostok on Sunday (a journey of more than three days), then you should keep copies of all travel tickets (rail or otherwise) to present them to any official who asks.

When you arrive at your final destination you should then register your visa as soon as possible.

Please note: if you are spending less than 7 working days in one city, you do not need to register your visa. Please re-check the requirements with our visa specialists before traveling.

Will I need travel insurance?

Yes, travel insurance is very important when travelling in Russia and along the Tran-Siberian routes. Real Russia work with Columbus Direct to offer travel insurance that will cover you for Russia and the Trans-Siberian railway.

Can you help if I have an emergency?

If you are in need of any assistance while you are travelling, we offer a dedicated 24-hour telephone support service.

For all emergencies, you can call us on +44 (0) 207 100 7370 where our operators are available to provide help 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

If you experience any problems while you are away, our team can offer guidance and support. If, for example, you are experiencing difficulty boarding a train, collecting your train ticket or any number of other travel issues, you can call our emergency helpline for immediate assistance.

I have further questions, can you help?

Can you help with the classic Trans-Siberian train journeys through Russia?

Our most popular journeys are those that follow the world famous Trans-Siberian railway. Whether you choose to travel on the Trans-Russian between Moscow and Vladivostok, the Trans-Mongolian between Moscow and Beijing via Ulan Bator or on the Trans-Manchurian between Moscow and Beijing via the Manchuria region we have the expertise to help you.

To start planning your classic journey, click on one of the links below:

What is the difference between Trans-Manchurian and Trans-Mongolian route?

The trains running on the Trans-Manchurian line avoid Mongolia, while the ones running on the Trans-Mongolian route go via Mongolia.

What is the difference between the soft and hard sleeper classes on the Chinese train 004/003?

A soft sleeper compartment has four berths, two upper and two lower with a lockable door. Compared to a hard class compartment, soft class has wider and longer berths, about 75cm and 190cm respectively. You can also find a small table between the lower bunks, a quality quilt and pillows. Also, it includes one socket in each compartment.

A hard sleeper has 4 berths per compartment with a lockable door, the berth is 60cm wide and 180cm long. You can find a few sockets in the corridor of each carriage. The provided quilt, pillow and linen is of a more standard quality.

A hard sleeper train ticket is cheaper than a soft sleeper one.

Is there an equivalent to the European style ‘Rail Pass’ allowing unrestricted use of trains?

Unfortunately, there is no Rail Pass programme in place on the Russian train network. You will need to buy individual tickets for each journey on the Russian train network. If you are planning on travelling via multiple towns or cities, such as along the Trans-Siberian railway, you may want to make use of our Trans-Siberian Journey Planner in order to plan ahead or, alternatively, you may want to check the Russian train schedules to work out when trains are running between the various towns/cities on your route.

The train tickets in Russia are issued for a specific date, on a specific date, for a specific journey, and for a specific person.

Can I book train tickets to Kaliningrad with you?

Kaliningrad is a part of Russia that is separated from the main bulk of Russia by three countries, Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia. Because of this, the train ticket cannot be booked through an agency, you would need to book it in person directly at the train station.

In this case, you would require an authorization to travel to Kaliningrad transiting Lithuania.

For more details on the required details, please contact one of our visa specialists to ensure that you have all the correct documentation to make the trip.

What is the difference between the train ticket classes?

On Russian trains the classes of carriage you will come across will depend on the route and the train you have chosen. Generally speaking, the classes will be as follows:

Sleeper Train

  • First Class – Two-berth cabin with the best services and staff.
  • Second Class – Four-berth cabin with reasonable/good services and staff.
  • Third Class – Open carriage with 54 berths; similar to a dormitory.

Seated Train

  • First Class – One or two seats either side of an aisle with generous leg space and a table.
  • Second Class – Two seats either side of an aisle with less leg space and generally no table.

For a more in depth description of what each ticket class offers, please visit our dedicated carriage class page.

If you would like to book any of these ticket classes for any of our routes, please visit our booking page. Or for Trans-Siberian routes, please visit our journey planner.

How do the time zones work when calculating departure times?

All trains within Russia operate their train schedule on Moscow Time (MT). This means that what anytime you are outside of MT you need to be extra careful about train departure times, as the actual time may be up to seven hours ahead of this. So, for example, a train that says that it leaves at 1pm in Vladivostok is leaving at 8pm (1pm MT). Helpfully each station will have clocks set to both times to try and alleviate any confusion.

When booking your train, you will find that our system will show local time by default, though the option is there to see the departure time as MT. Your ticket on the other hand will show MT.

How do I find my station?

When booking your ticket, you will find that it will state the departure station. As this will be in Russian, we will send an English itinerary along with it. For information regarding where the stations are, visit our Frequently Asked Question page:

Alternatively, you could book a transfer directly to your departure station with us.

What journeys can I purchase tickets for?

Primarily, we offer tickets where the departure, or destination point is within Russia. In addition, we offer train tickets for journeys throughout Europe, CIS countries, Mongolia, China and beyond; including such journeys as the Trans-Siberian railway.

To start planning your classic journey, click on one of the links below:

How does the Real Russia train ticket process work?

Getting your train tickets through Real Russia is a simple five step process:

  1. Select your departure and destination points as well as your date of travel in our booking tool. If you do not find the city you are looking for, use the ‘‘Advanced Search-type city name’’.
  2. Our system will then search the live Russian Railways database and present the results to you with available trains, tickets and current prices.
  3. Select the train and ticket types you want from the results.
  4. Enter the passenger and delivery details.
  5. You may then securely pay using a range of options.

We will then book your tickets and arrange for the delivery. It's that simple!

Do I have to buy any tickets that I have requested?

No. A request for ticket prices through the Real Russia booking system is not a commitment to purchase. We will only take payment, and obtain tickets, once you have instructed us to do so.

Please feel free to make use of our train booking system and our Trans-Siberian Journey Planner in order to explore further the possibility of travelling through Russia.

How can I pay for my train tickets?

There are numerous means by which you can pay for your Russian train tickets, and their delivery (if by courier) dependent on whichever is best for you:

All services must be fully paid before your tickets are booked and are subject to our standard Terms and Conditions.

For further information about booking, and paying, for your tickets visit out Buying Train Tickets page.

When can I book my train tickets?

While Russian Railways and other ticket issuers will not allow the booking/issuing of tickets more than a few weeks before the date of departure, Real Russia can take your details at any time in preparation for booking when the ticket issuers allow.

As it stands, these are the rules that the following issuers use when issuing tickets:

  • Russian Railways issue tickets up to 60 days in advance for both domestic and international travel.
  • Mongolian Railways issue tickets around two weeks in advance for all travel; this can fluctuate depending on demand and public holidays.
  • Chinese Railways issue tickets around 10 - 12 (sometimes up to 30) days in advance of travel; this can fluctuate depending on demand and public holidays.

If you would like to start your journey within these dates we will book and, where possible (such as when E-Tickets/E-Registration are selected), issue your tickets immediately.

If you would like to start your journey on dates further in advance than these rules allow, Real Russia will save your booking enquiry in our system so that on the first day that booking is available your ticket will be booked and, where possible (such as when E-Tickets/E-Registration are selected), issued immediately. Payment will be required before booking takes place; one of our travel experts will be in touch to confirm these details in advance of taking the booking.

Please note: Because the ticket issuers are based in various time zones around the world, the time at which we are able to book/issue your tickets may vary.

By taking your details as early as we do, we are able to start the booking process as soon as the tickets go on sale. This gives us an advantage over other agencies who may wait until the tickets are on sale before taking your details. It is very important that we can book your tickets as soon as possible as there is huge demand for them; particularly for First Class tickets or any tickets bought during the summer months.

How do I read a Russian train ticket?

Reading a Russian train ticket can be tricky, particularly if you do not know much about the language. Because of this we have created guides on both physical train tickets and Electronic-Tickets.

What if there are no first class tickets?

Should you wish a little more space or privacy on your journey through Russia, it may be that you would like to book a first class ticket. Unfortunately, First Class tickets are limited in number and very popular meaning that they are not always available.

If you would like space and privacy, and you are unable to book a first class ticket, it is possible to book two Second Class tickets; both the upper and lower-berth in a cabin to approximate the feeling of First Class. If you are planning to travel as a group of two, and both of you purchase two tickets, you would be afforded sole use of the cabin that you have booked.

If you are interested in booking your tickets in this fashion, you can do so through our rail ticket booking panel. When selecting two tickets ensure that you have selected one upper and one lower-berth place, and then enter all your details for both places along with a note in the comments section informing our travel specialists of your intention.

Alternatively, contact our travel specialists directly for further assistance.

There is a mistake on my ticket, what do I do?

Contact our travel experts for advice in this instance. As a rule, you will be allowed to board the train with up to three mistakes on your ticket. Missing out a letter in your name, or a mistype of a letter in your name would each count as one mistake. Beyond three mistakes a new ticket would need to be issued.

Issuing a new ticket would involve cancelling the current ticket at the standard cancellation fee (£10 + any fee levied by the ticket issuer) and purchasing a new ticket at the current price; which may be more expensive than the price paid originally.

For this reason, we recommend checking all the details on any tickets booked immediately upon receipt of them.

What do I do if I change my passport and my booking is in progress/ completed?

When boarding the train, you will be asked to show your ticket along with your identification document used to book it. If your identity document number does not match the information on the ticket held by the train attendant, you will not be allowed to board the train.

If at the time of travel, you are having a new passport, make sure you are having both documents with you (your new and the old one). If you do not have the old passport with you, we would need to cancel your tickets and re-book them under the new document details. Please take into consideration that this is subject to cancellation fees, plus the value of a new ticket. The exact cancelation fees are confirmed at the time of cancelation.

Please Note: If you have a booking in progress or completed, inform our Travel Specialists in case your identification document details change.

Can I upgrade/downgrade my ticket?

If your tickets are not booked yet, please inform our Travel Specialists about your change and this will be done free of charge. If your tickets are booked, the change in class of travel can be done by cancelling your actual tickets and re-book them based on your selection.

Please Note: if your tickets are booked, the cancellation is subject to cancellation fees.

Can I cancel train tickets I have already purchased and get a refund?

Yes, it is possible to cancel booked train tickets and receive a refund.

There is a standard administration charge for of £10 for each ticket that you wish to cancel.

Refunds are calculated by the ticket issuer on a sliding scale that differs for domestic train tickets and international train tickets based on how much time there is before your date, and time, of departure; the earlier the cancellation is made, the higher the refund generally is. If you are taking an international journey the cancellation policies of each country en- route may differ but, as a rule, work on the same sliding scale principal.

If physical tickets have been issued for your journey, such as will be the case for international train tickets, then we must have these in our possession to issue a refund. If the tickets are already in your possession when you decide to cancel them, you must return them to our Moscow office at your own cost. Because we need the tickets in our possession to cancel them, the date that we receive your tickets is the date that we will use to calculate your total refund; not the date that you request your cancellation. The latest that your tickets should be received by our Moscow office is one working day before the date of departure.

If you have international paper tickets, and are already travelling within Russia it may be difficult to return the tickets to us. In this instance, you can go to the ticket counter in the closest station and cancel them there. In this instance, you will be given a cancellation receipt and your unused ticket, but no immediate refund. You will need to send this cancellation receipt, and your unused ticket, back to our Moscow office, at your own cost, and then we will be able to process the refund, minus our standard cancelation fee. Your cancellation must be made before the departure date and time on the ticket. You will then have up to four months from the date of cancellation in which to do this.

If you have made a booking by requesting E-Tickets and you have yet to collect your tickets at the booking office, or you have made your booking by requesting E-Registration, then we are able to cancel the tickets on receipt of your written request (by email, fax or letter); provided it is received during the working hours of our Moscow office before the date, and time, of departure. Any cancellation requests received outside of these times (including public/national holidays) will be acted upon as if they had been sent on the next working day; not the date that your request was sent.

If you chose E-Ticket when booking, and have already exchanged your voucher for a paper ticket, or you received a physical ticket for a domestic journey, you will need to visit the ticket office of the nearest train station to cancel your ticket. In this instance, you will not be refunded immediately, rather the refunded amount (the value of which will depend on the time before departure) will be sent to us, and then we will process this and pass on to you (minus the standard cancellation fee). If you are in Moscow and feel that the language barrier may stop you from being able to cancel, feel free to pop into our Moscow office and our staff will be happy to help.

Please note:

  • Any postage costs incurred by yourself in receiving the tickets are non-refundable.
  • Where cancellation requests are received within eight hours of the time of departure, we cannot guarantee that any refund will be offered by the ticket issuer.

Please contact our travel experts for more information.

How can I receive my tickets?

There are a variety of ways that you can receive your train tickets depending on your needs.

Delivery Method Delivery Time Cost
Electronic Registration/Tickets by email 10 minutes Free
Delivery to a UK address by combined courier and Royal Mail Special Delivery ≤ 5 working days £12
Delivery to a European address by combined courier and Royal Mail Airsure ≤ 12 working days £25
Delivery worldwide by courier 1 to 3 working days POA
Delivery in Moscow by city courier to your hotel or apartment Date as requested £10
Delivery in St. Petersburg by DHL to your hotel or apartment Date as requested £25
Collection from our offices in Moscow Date as requested Free
Collection from European booking offices By arrangement POA
Collection from our London office ≤ 5 working days £10

Can I store my luggage at the train station?

Train stations throughout Russia and along the Trans-Siberian railway have areas for left luggage, such as self-service lockers or manned storage areas, where you can safely store luggage prior to your departure. Left luggage rooms in train stations can be identified by signs directing you to the Camera Khranyenia (Камера Хранения).

Self-service luggage lockers at all Moscow and Saint Petersburg railway stations are open 24/7.

In addition to this, stations in Moscow and Saint Petersburg have manned luggage storage rooms, that are operated throughout the day and night, though with short breaks that will be outlined on site. Be sure to check these times carefully, otherwise you may find the area closed just when you want to collect your bag and board your train!

These facilities vary across Russia and the Trans-Siberian but, in general, they work similarly.

Prices vary from station to station, but usually start at around 250 roubles, and increase from there dependent on how long you would like to store your luggage.

What should I pack on an overnight or long distance train?

While this may vary from person to person, and between summer and winter, a good rule of thumb for packing is the list below:

  • Light clothes, such as t-shirts, shorts or jogging bottoms, as Russian trains are very well heated, particularly in the winter.
  • Slippers, sandals or flip-flops as Russians prefer that you do not wear outdoor footwear inside.
  • Toiletries such as toothpaste, liquid soap, deodorant and wet wipes.
  • Feminine hygiene products (difficult to ask and find on a train).
  • Bottled water and soft drinks.
  • Tea and coffee.
  • Dried foods to be rehydrated with water from the Samovar.
  • General food and snacks to suit your tastes.
  • Personal first aid kit.
  • Carrier bags to store your rubbish. These can be deposited in a bin area at the end of the carriage.
  • Something with which to pass the time, such as books, magazines, playing cards, mobile devices or music for example.
  • A European two-pin plug adapter for Russian trains, or an adapter with multiple pin types if travelling on the Trans-Siberian.
  • Earplugs and eye mask if you have trouble sleeping on trains, or are a light sleeper.
  • Travel mug and a spoon or fork for instant meals.

For more inspiration on what to pack, and what not to pack, take a look at piece written for our Trans-Siberian Guides by travel blogger Matthew Woodward.

Are pets allowed on the Trans-Siberian Railway?

It is possible to transport pets on the Trans-Siberian, though there are certain restrictions. 

A ticket must be bought that allows pets to accompany you. In the Real Russia rail booking system, these places are marked with this symbol –  These tickets are only available in second and third class carriages.

Any pets taken with you must be small, such as small dogs, cats or birds. And all animals must be kept in a cage or pet carriers of some kind. These carriers must be able to fit in the spaces available for regular luggage.  Pets such as large dogs, or carriers that do not fit in the luggage space provided, are not permitted to travel in the carriage with you on a ‘pets included’ ticket. They may be able to travel in the baggage car, though these tickets must be purchased at the station of departure.

An exception to these rules is made for guide dogs, who are allowed anywhere on-board free of charge.

Are there any discounts available?

Russian train ticket prices are based upon a complex series of rules, tariffs and discounts. This means that it may be cheaper, or more expensive, to travel at certain times in the year than at others. 

Depending on your travel plans, you can get discounts for booking train tickets as early as possible with ‘‘Plan Ahead’’ discounts or group discounts.

Do I need any vaccinations before travelling in Russia, or along the Trans-Siberian railway?

There is a small chance of catching the tick-borne disease Encephalitis from May until the end of July when trekking in Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk or other rural locations. Vaccination is recommended for those that have planned outdoor activities. Other than this, please consult a qualified medical practitioner for advice relevant specifically to you.

Can I take my own food on-board?

Yes, of course.

There are no facilities for storing fresh produce or cooking meals, so be sure to pack accordingly. A popular choice are instant soup and noodles that can be made using hot water from the Samovar in each carriage.

Taking your own food and sharing it with fellow travellers is a great way to meet new people and add to the experience of travelling on Russian trains.

It is particularly worth thinking about if you have any unusual dietary requirements as these are not always catered for in Russian cuisine.

On many long-distance trains, you will find a restaurant car that will serve several freshly cooked local dishes, as well as hot and cold (soft and alcoholic) drinks. These restaurant cars are not open 24 hours a day so, upon boarding, you should check the opening times to ensure that you do not miss out. The prices vary depending on the train you have chosen, but everything is usually reasonably priced; usually around £10.

You may also find that a trolley of snacks and bottled drinks is wheeled through the train at regular intervals. These prices can vary from reasonable to high.

In each carriage, you will find a samovar of hot water that you will have unlimited access to. We recommend taking along tea, coffee and foods that can be eaten by just adding water (such as instant soup and noodles) to make the most of this. Tea and coffee may also be available from the provodonista/provodnik of your carriage for around 20 to 50 roubles.

If you are lucky enough to make friends with other travellers on-board, particularly Russian travellers, you may be invited to join them, and share their provisions (often home cooked bread or smoked meats) for dinner in their cabin.

Can food be included in my ticket?

When booking your tickets, you may have the opportunity to book a ticket that includes meals; this is not available on all trains though. To know if it is included, look for this symbol -  . If your ticket has one meal included, please note that this is for the entire trip, not per day. The restaurant staff, or your provodnista, will ask you to choose from a small selection of snacks and hot meals, and when you would like to be served.  For example, a meal on train 002, the ‘Rossiya’, consists of a snack (often a cake and a small bottle of still water) and a hot dish. 

Who are provodnistas?

Provodnista’s are the ladies who look after each carriage on long distance trains in Russia. There are usually two or three per carriage working in shifts, meaning they are available 24 hours a day.

The provodnista’s will check your tickets, sell you snacks and drinks, clean, resolve any issues you have and will scold you if you misbehave! Most only speak Russian, but they are generally very good at getting their point across.

You will find some are more helpful, and friendlier, than others. If you do encounter one of the sterner provodnista’s, you may find their disposition lightens and brightens once you have bought a little something from them, such as tea or coffee!

Can I use my credit/debit card to purchase food, drink and other items on-board?

While an increasing number of trains offer card payments, we would still recommend taking cash instead. The reason is two-fold. There is no guarantee your train will offer the ability to pay by card, and even if it does, when the train is far from any towns or cities, they card machines may not work as they require an internet connection, and there is little to no mobile signal in the Russian countryside.

Also, Russian ATMs will allow you to choose the withdraw currency in either Rouble, Euros or US Dollars, so getting cash is relatively easy. US Dollars and Euros are the best currency for exchange.

What currency should I take on-board trains in Russia, and along the Trans-Siberian railway?

We recommend you having cash most of the times. If you start your trip from Russia, make sure to have Roubles with you. It is always best to use local currency, keeping in mind the countries you will be in. While you are in Mongolia, make sure to withdrawn money at the ATMs in Ulan Bator and do not exchange too much because it has almost no value outside of Mongolia.

While you are on the train to Beijing, have some Mongolian Tugrik with you that would cover the food price for 24 hours.

What happens when the trains crosses the border between Russia and Mongolia?

Border crossings can take several hours, with a wait of up to four hours on both sides of the border.

One reason for the long wait is to give the border guards the chance to go through their routine. Several uniformed border guards will board the train and begin to do two things. One group will go from cabin to cabin checking documentation, making sure that visas and passports are all ok, and that you match the photo in your passport. These guards will also check any relevant customs declarations are completed and handed over. The second group will check bags and cabins to ensure that no illegal contraband is being carried; you may even find them unscrewing the various panels in each cabin to make sure nothing has been hidden behind them! During these checks, you will be asked to stay in your cabin, and remain seated. This process happens on both sides of the border.

Once the border checks have been carried out, you will be allowed to leave the train. If you do, make sure that you take any valuables with you, and that you have what you need for the next hour or two. The reason for this is that now the train will move so that new carriages can be added, or old ones removed; for instance, the dining car is changed so that in Russia you have a Russian one, and in Mongolia, a Mongolian one. It may seem a little disconcerting when the train moves off without you, but it will come back. This can happen three or four times. When the train leaves for the final time, the provodnista will make sure you know so you are not left behind. Again, this process happens on both sides of the border.

I have other questions about buying Trans-Siberian rail tickets

Real Russia is your travel s specialist in Trans-Siberian journeys between Moscow and the Far East.

For further questions about buying Russian rail tickets, how to pay for your tickets, please visit Real Russia Rail ticket page.