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A beginner’s guide to Russian train travel

An essential guide answering the most common questions regarding Russian train travel

Train travel is one of the simplest ways to navigate the vast expanse that is Russia, from speedy domestic trains connecting major cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg to international sleeper trains operating on the Trans-Siberian train route.

In this post, we will equip you with the essential facts you need to know about Russian train travel from planning, booking and understanding your train ticket to what you need to take with you.

Are Russian trains reliable?

Perhaps the most frequent question we get asked is, ‘are Russian trains reliable?’. Simply put, yes. Russian trains are often on time so you should always aim to get to your platform a good 10-15 minutes before you need to leave.

What types of Russian trains are there?

Russia has a variety of trains in operation including high-speed, firmeny, skory, Elektricha, passenger and more. Therefore, it can be useful to read up on the different types of trains available before planning your journey.

You can find a comprehensive list of Russian trains and some information about these on our website.

How do I understand Russian train classes?

Russian train classes can be quite tricky to understand, moreover, you may even find that some facilities differ depending on the age of the train.

View our ‘Classes of Russian Trains’ poster below for a brief overview of Russian train classes and what to expect. For a downloadable version, please click on the image below.

Russian Train Classes Poster
Classes of Russian train carriages

Onboard . . .

Since we provide train tickets for Russia ourselves, we often get asked questions that are not concerned with the usual booking procedure and understanding of train classes. With this in mind, our train experts have picked out some of the most common questions which should help alleviate some of that pre-travel angst.

Russian Train Interior Seating
Seating on a Russian train

Is it possible to pay with card on trains?

This largely depends on the type of train you take. Newer domestic trains may now take card payments for products or food purchased on the train; however, most older commuter trains may not have card payment facilities. When taking Trans-Siberian trains from Russia, it is important to note that other countries such as Mongolia, have a currency that often cannot be acquired easily prior to entering the country and may not have card facilities. Therefore, you should adequately prepare yourself with supplies for this leg of your journey.

Are showers available on the trains?

This depends on the type of train and class you choose. Some privately-run trains that operate between Moscow and St. Petersburg may have showers provided in certain classes. First-class cabins may have a shower shared between two cabins although these are usually shower heads connected to a tap on the wall rather than conventional showers. Luxury trains such as the Golden Eagle offer private en-suite bathrooms with a power shower.

Which power sockets are used in Russia?

Russia operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz; they have two plug types which are the C and F. Both plug types use two round pins as standard in Europe.

For Trans-Siberian travellers passing through different countries, we recommend packing a multi-adapter as the power mains may change if you need to swap trains in a different country. UK travellers will need an EU converter plug to convert the 3 square prongs into the standard EU two prongs.

Is vegetarian food available on Russian trains?

Vegetarians shouldn’t have too many problems finding things to eat on the train. Vegetarian dishes are available on most menus and bread, fruit and vegetables can be purchased on many train station platforms. Trans-Siberian travellers may find themselves restricted for choice if visiting countries such as Mongolia which are prolific meat-eating countries, although you should still be able to find something.

Bar and Snacks on Russian Train
Bar on a Russian train

Are there disabled facilities on Russian trains or stations?

It is possible to find disabled facilities on certain trains, such as the Sapsan, that travels between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, disabled facilities are not widespread yet, however, newer trains are starting to challenge this. It is possible to find a lift at the carriage entrance on these trains to aid wheelchair-bound passengers on these trains and the cabins will have wider corridors and cabins. Plug sockets, call buttons and switches will have braille instructions for passengers with visual impairments.

Most train stations have facilities for disabled passengers including toilets and wheelchair ramps.

Are pets allowed on Russian trains?

Pets are allowed on Trans-Siberian trains although you must buy a specific ticket that allows a pet to accompany you. Any pets you take must be small and need to be kept in a cage or carrier of some kind that will easily fit in the spaces provided for regular luggage. Exceptions are made for guide dogs who are allowed anywhere onboard free of charge.

If you have any other questions regarding Russian train travel, please see our Russian trains FAQs.

Booking made simple with Real Russia!

If you plan to travel by train around Russia or on the Trans-Siberian, our website can help! We show live train schedules, average ticket prices and have our own simple and straightforward booking process should you wish to book your train tickets with us. If you are unsure about the type of ticket you need or have any questions, please contact our dedicated train travel experts.

Planning a whole Trans-Siberian journey? Use our Trans-Siberian planner to help align your train journeys side-by-side!

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