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Frequently Asked Questions about Russian Train Travel

Rail travel across Russia, and the Trans-Siberian, can be a daunting prospect, whether it's the language barrier, the cultural barrier or just the potentially complex nature of ordering the tickets. Our FAQ is designed to answer all the most commonly asked travel questions to help make the process that bit simpler.

We also have a handy Trans-Siberian hub with guides and articles on packing for your trip, choosing the best route for you, guides to specific trains and customer experiences. 

You can also visit our information page on buying Russian train tickets 

If you have a question that isn’t answered here, or have experiences you think would help other travellers, feel free to contact us.

 

Is the Trans-Siberian journey safe?

Millions of people safely travel across Russia, China and Mongolia every year, locals and tourists alike. In some ways, the Trans-Siberian trains are some of the safest trains to travel on. 

  • Every carriage is looked after 24/7 by at least one attendant known as provodnistas. 
  • Every passenger must show their ticket upon entry and present with it official ID; for foreign visitors this will generally be a passport.
  • At every stop, the trains are inspected to ensure cleanliness and safety.
  • There are containers under bunks or seats to store luggage or valuables. 
  • Some compartments will only have a simple lock on the sliding door, however, other trains will have aditional security devices 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. 
  • As with anywhere, don't agree to look after another person's luggage or store it in your compartment.

What are Trans-Siberian trains like?

Trains can vary a lot based on the class you are travelling, the age of the train and the train provider. Each train has its own style and quirks that become part of the adventure that is long-distance rail travel.

You may find differences you didn't quite expect, such as heating for the train! Efficiency of the heating will depend on the age of the train and is entirely down to the carriage attendant's discretion, who may be used to different temperatures than you. We recommend packing a variety of clothes to prepare and reading up on other traveller's experiences. 

If you're unsure of the amenities available on the trains you have booked, feel free to check with our travel specialists so you're fully prepared before travelling. You'll find the amenities available on the train will vary depending on which class you have booked. In second class there will be more available plug sockets than in third class for instance, although there may still only be one or two per carriage.

One of the biggest, and most exciting, variances on the Trans-Siberian is the people you'll meet, from locals taking the train across the country to other travellers from all over the world. 

You can find travel guides by travel writer Matthew Woodward on some of the Trans-Siberian's most famous trains here:

Train 001/002 - Life onboard the 'Rossiya'

Train 003/004 - Life onboard the Trans-Mongolian train

Train 19/20 - Life onboard the 'Vostock'

Do I need to book any trains locally?

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, in addition to purchasing a train ticket to make the journey, you may need to apply for additional visas.

All tickets to and from Kaliningrad can only be booked locally 10 days before the departure of the train due to paperwork that needs to be filled out at the train station. 

Trains 801 and 803 from Saint Petersburg to Veliky Novgorod, and their returning trains 802 and 804, can also only be booked locally 10 days before the departure of the train. 

Before planning your journey to Kaliningrad, you should contact one of our visa specialists to ensure that you have all the correct documentation to make the trip.

While we cannot book these specific tickets, if they are a part of your trip our travel specialists will still be happy to advise. 

What are the views like?

The views vary greatly depending on the time of year you're travelling and the specific route you're taking. If there is a specific view you're really looking to, like the landscape as you head towards Lake Baikal, have a look at your train stop times to make sure that you're awake to see them! In some areas, such as travelling in Mongolia through the Gobi Desert and open expanses, you may find windows will get dirty on the outside and views may not be crystal clear - the desert is a dusty place! To combat this, many regular travellers will unlock the windows and pull them down. Officially, this is against the rules, but you will probably see plenty of travellers doing it anyway!

 

Window Views through Irkutsk

 

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

Moscow has nine major train stations which are all served by the Metro Circle line. Each station serves a different direction, making turning up at the right station before you travel slightly easier. 

If you are worried about turning up at the wrong station, remember to take the English-language itinerary Real Russia will send with your tickets as it will state your departure station. 

For a complete no-worry experience, you can book a transfer from your accommodation to the station through Real Russia here.

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

Station

Belorussky Station

Translation

Белорусский

Serves

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

Address

7 Tverskaya Zastava Ploshchad

Phone

(495) 251-6093

Metro

Belorusskaya

Translation

Белорусская

Station

Kazansky Station

Translation

Казанский

Serves

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

Address

2 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad

Phone

(499) 266-3181

Metro

Komsomolskaya

Translation

Комсомольская

Station

Kievsky Station

Translation

Киевский

Serves

Western Ukraine, Southeastern Europe and Vnukovo Airport.

Address

1 Ploshchad Kievskogo Vokzala

Phone

(499) 240-0415

Metro

Kievskaya

Translation

Киевская

Station

Kursky Station

Translation

Курский

Serves

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

Address

29 Ulitsa Zemlyanoi Val

Phone

(495) 266-5310

Metro

Kurskaya/Chakalovskaya stations

Translation

Курская / Чкаловская

Station

Leningradsky Station / Oktyabrskaya 

Translation

Ленинградский / Октябрьская 

Serves

Estonia, Finland, St. Petersburg and northwestern Russia.

Address

3 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad

Phone

(495) 262-9143

Metro

Komsomolskaya

Translation

Комсомольская

Station

Paveletsky Station

Translation

Павелецкий

Serves

Voronezh, Tambov, Volgograd, Astrakhan and Domodedovo Airport.

Address

1 Paveletskaya Ploshchad

Phone

(495) 235-0522

Metro

Paveletskaya

Translation

Павелецкая

Station

Savyolovsky Station

Translation

Савеловский

Serves

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

Address

2 Ploshchad Savyolovskogo Vokzala

Phone

(499) 266-8901

Metro

Savyolovskaya

Translation

Савеловская

Station

Yaroslavlsky Station

Translation

Ярославлский

Serves

Siberia, the Russian Far East, Mongolia and China.

Address

5 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad

Phone

(800) 775-0000

Metro

Komsomolskaya

Translation

Комсомольская

Station

Rizhsky Station

Translation

Рижский

Serves

Latvia.

Address

1 Rizhskaya Pl

Phone

(495) 631-1588

Metro

Rizhskaya

Translation

Рижская

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

Saint Petersburg has five major train stations, which are easily accesible by the Metro. Each station serves a different direction, making turning up at the right station before you travel slightly easier.

If you're worried about turning up at the wrong station, remember to take the English-language itinerary Real Russia will send with your tickets as it will state your departure station.

For a complete no-worry experience, you can book a transfer from your accomodation to the station through Real Russia. 

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

Station

Moskovsky Station

Translation

Московский

Serves

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

Address

85 Nevsky Av

Phone

(812) 457-4428

Metro

Ploshchad Vosstaniya or Mayakovskaya

Translation

Площадь Восстания/ Маяковская

Station

Finlyandsky Station

Translation

Финландский

Serves

Helsinki and other destinations in the north west.

Address

5 Lenin Square

Phone

(812) 436-6746

Metro

Ploschad Lenina

Translation

ППлощадь Ленина

Station

Baltiysky Station

Translation

Балтийский

Serves

Local and suburban services.

Address

120 Nab. Obvodnogo Kanala

Phone

(812) 457-2859

Metro

Baltiskaya

Translation

Балтийская

Station

Vitebsky Station

Translation

Витебский

Serves

Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Odessa.

Address

32 Zagorodny Av

Phone

(812) 457-5939

Metro

Pushkinskaya

Translation

Пушкинская

Station

Ladozhsky Station

Translation

Ла́дожский

Serves

Murmansk, Volgoda and Yekaterinburg.

Address

73 Zanevsky Pr.

Phone

(812) 436-5310

Metro

Ladozhskaya

Translation

Лáдожская

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

The Trans-Siberian and Russian rail network serves hundreds of stations. You can find stations for some of our most popular destinations throughout Russia and along the Trans-Siberian railway below.

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

Station

Nizhny Novgorod

Translation

Станция Нижний Новгород-Московский

Serves

Moscow, Siberia, Mongolia and China.

Address

2 Revolyutsii Square

Phone

(831) 248-3723

Metro

Moskovskaya Station

Translation

Московская

Station

Yekaterinburg–Passazhirsky

Translation

Екатеринбург-Пассажирский

Serves

Moscow, Siberia, Mongolia and China.

Address

Vokzal'naya Street

Phone

(343) 358-3210

Metro

Uralskaya Station

Translation

Уральская

Station

Vokzal-Glavny

Translation

Вокзал-Главный

Serves

Moscow, Siberia, Germany, Mongolia and China.

Address

43 Shamshurina Street

Phone

(383) 229-2039

Metro

Garina Mikhailovskogo Station

Translation

Гарина Михайловского

Station

Irkutsk Train Station

Translation

Иркутск

Serves

Moscow, Siberia, Mongolia and China.

Address

1 Chelnokova Street

Phone

(3952) 6370-22

Station

Vladivostok Train Station

Translation

Владивосток

Serves

Siberia and Western Russia.

Address

2 Aleutskaya St

Phone

(4232) 2477-51

Station

Ulan-Bator Train Station

Translation

Улаанбаатар

Serves

All domestic and international routes.

Address

1 Khoroo

Phone

21-243856

Station

Beijing Railway Station

Translation

北京火車站

Serves

Manchuria, Shanghai, Inner Mongolia and international routes.

Address

Beijing Station E St

Phone

5105-9999

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

Station

Kazan Passazhirskiy Station

Translation

Казань Пассажирский 

Address

1A Privokzalnaya Ploshchad, Kazan, Tatarstan, Rssia, 420202

Phone

(843) 294-04-00

Station

Vosstanie Passazhirsky (Kazan-2) 

Translation

 Восстание Пассажирский 

Address

1 Vorovskogo St, Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia, 420039

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

To find out more about e-tickets, including the difference because e-registration and e-ticket, how to exchange them and where, you can use 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.

To find out more about paper tickets you can use our rail tickets page. This will explain how to purchase tickets, delivery and cancellation options as well as general station info.

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

  • ​There will be an electronic departure board showing the train number, destination, departure and platform. Smaller stations may still use paper noticeboards.
  • Learn, or keep a copy of, your destination in its native language as very few will have English translations and announcements will be made in the native language.
  • When you know your train platform, head through the departure hall to the main platform area, each platform will be clearly numbered.
  • When boarding you can find your carriage by checking the numbers on train doors. 
  • At the entrance to the carriage will be a provodnista who will check all your documents are in order before you board.
  • Larger stations will have porters to carry your baggage but how much they charge will vary.

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.

Russian Railways do recommend that you arrive at train stations a minimum of 1-2 hours before departure, this is especially stressed for Yekaterinburg, Volgograd, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, St. Petersburg, Sochi and Rostov-On-Don station. 

When can I board my train?

Up to 30 minutes before its departure time. We recommend boarding early so you're not in a rush and have time to get settled.

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

Yes, your passport will be used as an ID check against the details on your ticket.

This is separate to a customs check at borders; these can take several hours and you'll find more information about the process in this blog by travel writer Matthew Woodward here.

What happens if I miss my train?

You'll need to purchase a new ticket for the next train if you would still like to make your journey.

If your travel plans have changed, please see details on how to cancel tickets 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 buy snacks or stretch your legs, and are not back in time for departure you'll need to contact the Station Master immediately. They will attempt to help you resolve this.

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

What happens if I lose my ticket?

If you have an Electronic Registration voucher you can reprint your voucher. If you have an Electronic Ticket and you haven't exchanged for your paper ticket,  you can also simply reprint your voucher.

If you have already exchanged your e-ticket for a paper ticket, or originally purchased a paper ticket, and it has been lost or damaged you will need to pay a fee to have it replaced. When travelling late at night, the ticket offices may not be open, but it is still worth trying as staff will be as helpful as they can.

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 under five categories, you can find a full overview of them on our Russian Train Types page.

How are the train carriages laid out?

There are several common carriage layouts across the Trans-Siberian. Some vary slightly and privately-owned trains, like the Grand Express, can vary significantly. 

 You can find more detailed information on our Carriage Classes below.

First Class - Sleeper

First class carriages are made up of two-person cabins. If you want sole occupancy of a cabin you can buy both tickets. There are usually two lower berths in each cabin that can be changed between couch and bed, like a futon, with a small table between.

Occasionally, there will be one berth above the other so only the bottom berth will flip into a couch. 

At each end of the carriage are toilets with washing facilities and a provodnistas will have a room in the carriage so you'll always know where to go as a point of contact.

Layout of a first class sleeper carriage

First Class - Seated

Seated first class carriages are generally found on the Sapsan and Allegro trains. They offer extended leg space and are laid out similarly to 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 like first class, but there are four people to a cabin. If travelers want to share the cabin between just two, they would have to buy all four tickets; this can sometimes work out cheaper than buying two first class tickets. Like first class, the lower bunks can be turned into a couch with two bunks above and a table between the bottom two bunks. There will be washing facilities at either end of the carriage and the provodnista will have a room in the carriage as a point of contact for any problems.

Layout of second class sleeper carriage

Second Class - Seated

Second class seats are laid out similarly to European trains, with two seats of two seats separated by a small aisle. The seats won't have as much leg room as first class and luggage space is normally 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

Will I have to share a cabin with strangers?

Possibly! But you'll have a good idea of this in advance, and if you are unsure just ask one of our travel specialists who will be happy to help. 1st class carriages will have smaller compartment sizes for more privacy. 2nd class carriages you can book two berths, so if you are travelling with someone you could book an entire compartment between yourself. If this is of interest to you, make sure to contact one of our travel specialists who can check if this is an option on your train and guide you through the process. You can use our helpful carriage maps above to see the size of compartments in each class.

You'll also need to be aware that you may not be getting on the train at its starting point, the train may start in Moscow but you are boarding in Yekaterinburg, so there may already be travellers in your cabin. This is especially important if you're boarding late at night or early in the morning as passengers may be sleeping. 

Regardless of if you have booked sole use of a cabin or have carriage mates, you will have to share certain amenities. If you're lucky enough to have a shower, as some first-class cabins do, they are generally shared between two cabins. Toilets will be shared between the carriage, so we advise that you bring your own toiletries and towels. The samovar and plug sockets will also be shared between the carriage. 

What are ‘gender specific’ cabins?

Many trains on the Russian and Trans-Siberian routes have the option of gender-specific cabins. This means when you are booking if there is an empty cabin available, you can book a bunk in it and specify it as single gender. This means only travellers of the same gender will be able to book places in that cabin. Once a cabin has been specified as gender-specific, it cannot be changed for that leg of the journey.

You can also book a bed in a cabin that has been specified gender-specific by looking for the Sex Icon symbol on our booking system.

Not all countries that have connections with the Russian rail network have gender-specific cabins. Bear this in mind if you're travelling outside of Russia as gender-specific cabins may become mixed-gender when you cross the border.

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 or contact our travel experts for further advice.

You can also read our blog from HowDareShe travel writer Jessica about her experiences as a solo female traveller here.

Are there disabled facilities?

Disabled facilities are not widespread, they're only available on select trains travelling between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, such as the Sapsan.

Carriages with disabled facilities will be equipped with a lift at the carriage entrance to help passengers with limited mobility get on and off the train. The cabins themselves will have wider corridors and larger cabins to accommodate wheelchairs or other walking aids. 

The wider hallways are not across the wh ole train so people who use wheelchairs will have difficulties accessing other parts of the train, such as the restaurant carriage. 

For passengers with visual impairments, all switches, power sockets, call buttons etc. have brail instructions and special audio devices that make it easier to contact the provodnista.

Each disabled cabin will have its own bathroom facility with enough room for those with limited mobility or wheelchairs. They're also installed with handrails, lighting and sound boards for passengers with visual or audio impairments. 

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

To discuss your exact travel requirements please contact our travel experts for further advice.

Can I travel with children?

Children are welcome to travel the Trans-Siberian and depending on their age may receive discounted tickets, this will vary depending on the route and rail provider.

It's worth remembering, several sections of the Trans-Siberian will have no stop for several hours and the train will not be equipped with entertainment so you'll need to bring your own.

At border crossing, restrooms are likely to be closed so you'll need to look up the timings prior to travel to work around these times.

When boarding the train, children must have their own passport or be listed in their parents passport, or have a copy, and translation, of their birth certificate. If children are listen in their parent's passport, a photo of the children must be included.

Speak to our travel specialists if you would like to make sure you have all the documents you need. 

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.

You can see examples below of bedding in 2nd class carriages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                    

What are the bathroom facilities like?

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 be provided in some classes but generally there will not be shower facilities. Some first class cabins will have showers that are shared between two cabins but they will not be full showers but shower heads connected to the tap/wall so you can rinse/wash your hair with ease.

Generally, they are clean and stocked with soap and toilet paper and are cleaned regularly throughout the journey. We still very strongly recommend bringing your own toiletries as all toilets will be communal so they will be very busy and likely run out of toiletries. We suggest bottled water for brushing teeth, your own toothpaste, toilet roll, soaps and flannel. 

While some bathrooms will have towels provided, they will be being used by the majority of the carriage so you should still bring your own.

Many older trains will lock the bathrooms a half hour before pulling into a station, whilst stationery, and until a half hour after leaving it. The bathrooms are likely to be busy before these times because of this.

At border crossing, trains can remain stationary for up to 6 or 7 hours so take this into account.

Is food and drink available on the train and station?

On most long-distance trains there will be a restaurant carriage serving freshly cooked local dishes and a variety of hot and cold drinks. Opening times will change during your journey as you change time zones so make sure you keep a note of them throughout your journey.

When you cross into a new country the restaurant carriage will be changed to match the country, so the style of food and staff will change. It's important to note, so will the currency! Restaurant carriages will only accept local currency. This can be tricky on Mongolian restaurant carriages as Mongolian currency can only be obtained in Mongolia. If you are not stopping on your journey in Mongolia, you'll need to make sure you have packed enough food to see you through that portion of the journey. 

Price and availability can vary so we would still always recommend bringing a good supply of your own food. Because there is always a samovar with hot water available we would recommend bringing lots of instant noodles and soups, dried fruits, granola bars and other foods to see you through the journey. 

Traditionally, Russian trains have operated on Moscow time within Russia, however, journeys from 1st August, which can be purchased from 4th May, will be moving to local time so the restaurant carriage time will be adjusted to local time. You'll be able to find opening hours in the restaurant carriage and can always ask the provodnista for help.

On some trains, there will also be snack trolleys wheeled through the train at regular intervals. If there's no snack trolleys you can often purchase snacks and drinks from the provodnista cabin. 

Each carriage will have a samovar for hot water so you can take tea, coffee, instant noodles and soups.  You can pack them in advance or buy them along the way, they're available at most stations or supermarkets near the larger stations. 

Station shops won't open 24/7 so be sure to stock up on supplies during daytime stops. 

One of the more interesting places to shop, especially at smaller stops, is with local traders who sell local produce from the train platform or through the window of each carriage. The goods in sale will be varied so should be seen as a bonus. 

It's also necesarry to pack your own cutlery and travel mug.

 

 

 

Market seller at Novorossiysk

 

I have dietary requirements, where will I be able to eat?

Vegetarians shouldn't have many problems. While meat dishes are profilic across the Trans-Siberian, especially Mongolia, vegetarian dishes will be available on most menus and many platform traders will be selling home-made bread and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The same advice can be offered to Vegans, although they will need to take more precautions ordering off of menus and should plan to bring good where possible to eat alongside fresh food fromt raders. This could be instant noodles and soups, granola bars, dried fruits and nuts etc. 

Those with gluten and lactose intolerances will need to take the same precautions at home. It will probably be safer to purchase fresh food from platform traders, the language barriers can make ti hard to ask what is in restaurant car meals. 

For other dietary requirements, or further advice, please contact our travel specialists.

Can I smoke on the train or at train stations?

No, smoking has been banned on Russian trains and at stations since 2014. Be aware, some locals  may smoke in the space between carriages but it is illegal and carries a hefty fine so we would not recommend joining them.

It's illegal to smoke within 15 metres of the entrance to any rail station in Russia. This ban is extended to all platforms for suburban trains.

Signs will be very clear where you can, and cannot, smoke. There are severe fines for breaking these rules so make sure to pay attention.

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?

There are bike rules for Russian trains, but from personal experience, we know how these are enforced can vary depending on the provodnsita. 

It is generally okay to carry bikes on board and the smaller they are, the better, with fold-up bikes being ideal.

You will store your bike in the baggage car of the train. An attendant will check in your bike and give you a receipt/ticket which you must show when you leave the train to retrieve your bike. 

You cannot purchase space in the baggage car when buying tickets as the cost will depend on the weight and size of the bike and must be purchased at the station.

Advise your travel specialist if you're bring a bike so they cna give you more advice.

Are there electrical outlets?

In first class there is an electrical outlet in every room, in addition to lower 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 low power outlets in the bathrooms.

If you are able, we would advise taking spare batteries where possible or portable travel chargers for your electrical devices to minimise how much you'll need to rely on plugs. Taking a travel adapter with multiple USB charging ports is also useful.

Is Wi-Fi available?

Wi-Fi is generally not available on the train, but most of the larger train stations will have Wi-Fi.

The availability of Wi-Fi is increasing constantly but because of the remote areas of the train routes you should not expect to have Wi-Fi on your journey. We would recommend saving as much information offline, like maps and phrase books, as you can before you leave.

Do I need to be able to speak the native language to travel on the Trans-Siberian?

Across Russia, Mongolia and China you'll find use of English, and non-native, languages is limited so we'd recommend memorising a few stock phrases. You'll find knowing at least a few phrases will help endear you to locals who will appreciate your efforts. Carriage attends wll be used to working with a language barrier so you will find they're very efficient at helping with minimal shared languages. 

Before leaving for your trip, buy a simple phrase book or download an offline version on your phone.

We also offer a variety of guided tours and day trips with English speaking guides to make sureyou can get the most of your travels.

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?

Here is our full page on how to register your visa.

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.

How do the time zones work when calculating departure times?

Traditionally, trains within Russia operate their train schedule on Moscow Time (MT), however, journeys from 1st August, which can be purchased from 4th May, will now be operating on local time.

Tickets for journeys from 1st August, which can be purchased from 4th May, will be printed to display arrival and departure times in local times, however, tickets before this date will still show arrival and departure times in Moscow time. 

Train stations will continue to have clocks that display both Moscow and local time for the current time.

Staff in the stations will also be happy to offer any help you may need.

When booking your train, you will find that our system you will have the option to display times in Moscow or local to make planning as convenient as possible for you.

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 your ticket, you will not be allowed to board the train.

If at the time of travel, you are having a new passport, make sure you have both documents with you (your new and 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 cancellation fees are confirmed at the time of cancelation.

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

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

Popular travel writer, and Real Russia friend, Matthew Woodward has written a very helpful Trans-Siberian Guide on what to pack.

You'll find that the right kind of luggage, a mixture of clothing and the right gadgets are a good start. You don't want to leave packing until the last minute and Matthew Woodward's guide will give you all the information you need. Adaptor plugs are an absolute neccesity if you have any electronics that will need charging like a mobile phone, laptop or kindles. Having a multi-plug so you can charge multiple things at once is amazing helpful and if you're willing to share will make you very popular indeed. 

Are pets allowed on the Trans-Siberian Railway?

It is possible to transport pets on the Trans-Siberian with restrictions. Tickets must be bought that allow pets to accompany you. In the Real Russia booking system, these places are marked by the  symbol and are only available in second and third class.

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 carrier 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' tickets. 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?

You can find details of available train discounts here

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 practioner for advice relevant specially to you.

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

We recommend card for major cities and cash for smaller towns and the train itself. While trains do increasingly offer card payments, they become unreliable when far out from towns or cities because they require an internet connection and there is little mobile signal in the countryside. 

You'll always need to make sure you have local money btu you can only exchange Mongolian currency in Mongolia so you will need to take money to exchange, EUR and USD tend to have the best rates, or use ATM's in Ulan-Bator to withdraw local currency.

You can find information on our money page here and compare the best rates on the market today.

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

Border crossing takes several hours, with waits of up to four hours on either side of the border.

Several uniformed border guards will board the train, one group of guards will go cabin to cabin checking visas and passports. These guards will also check customs declarations are completed and handed over. The other groups will check bags and cabins. During these checks you'll be asked to remain seated in your cabin.

This process will happen on both sides of the border.

Once the passenger border checks have been carried out you'll be allowed to leave the train. If you do, make sure you take any valuables and have what you need for the next hour or two. This is because new carriages will be added or removed. 

It may seem a little worrying when the train moves off without you, but this is standard and will happen three or four times. when the train leaves for the final time the provodnista will make sure you're not left behind. This process will also happen on both sides of the border.

You can find a full guide on the border crossing written by travel writer Matthew Woodward here.

Changing the bogies at the Chinese Border

I have other questions about buying Trans-Siberian rail tickets

Real Russia is your travel specialist for 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.

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?