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How to read a paper rail ticket

Understanding Russian, Mongolian and Chinese train tickets

We provide an English itinerary outlining all the important information with every train ticket that we sell; whether you are travelling in Russia, or further afield. However, if you do not read Russian (for Russian domestic and Trans-Siberian tickets), German (for many of our European tickets), or Chinese (Chinese domestic and international tickets) and would like to know what all the information on a train ticket means, then we have put together a brief guide for you.

We have included several of the paper ticket types that you will most commonly come across, as well as information on what it all means. If you would like to print them out, or save them for future reference, each ticket is available as a PDF by clicking on it. Alternatively, click here to download them all together!

Russian Domestic Train Tickets

Russian domestic train tickets are issued for all train travel within Russia. They will include all the essential details you need to know including seat and carriage numbers, class, arrival / departure stations, dates, and times. As Russian trains usually take a long time to travel between stations, you will often find additional information on your train ticket including bed linen, meals and passport number.

Example of Russian Domestic Train Ticket

Russian International Train Ticket

Russian international train tickets are issued when travelling from Russia to another country. International tickets include all the typical fields including arrival / departure date, times and stations as well as the class, number of passengers and seat number.

Russian Continental Train Ticket

Deutsche Bahn European Train Ticket

Deuche Bahn issue train tickets for travel across Europe from Germany to most major European cities. These tickets are fairly straightforward and include the arrival / departure date, time and station as well as your ticket class, seat and carriage number.

Russian Third type ticket

Chinese Domestic Train Ticket

Chinese domestic train tickets are issued when travelling by train within China. These tickets include the date, train ID, carriage number, berth, class, fare, as well as the arrival / departure station and times. Some of these may also include a passport number. Vouchers, such as in the example below, will also include a 'status' which, if valid, will show as 'confirmed'.

Chinese Domestic Train Ticket

Chinese International Ticket

Chinese international train tickets are issued when travelling from China into another country. These tickets typically include details in Chinese and English and indicate the class, carriage and berth number along with the arrival / departure dates, times and stations. Additional personal details including your passport number and nationality will be included on your ticket due to crossing the border.

Chinese international Train Ticket

Mongolian International Train Ticket

Mongolian international train tickets are issued to travellers in Mongolia when travelling through to another country. Similar to Chinese train tickets, Mongolian tickets include the train, carriage and room number as well as the standard arrival and departure information. These tickets now also include your passport number, nationality, full name and date of birth.

Example of Mongolian Train Ticket

What do the different train types mean?

Russian trains

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

  • Firmeny - Firmany Train - ФИРМ - These are the highest quality trains on the Russian network; running on the most popular routes, with the best services and staff.
  • Skory - Fast Train - СК - These are fast sleeper trains used for many of the long distance routes. They possess better facilities than regular passenger trains, though they are not quite of the standard of Firmeny trains.
  • Skorostnoj - Express Train - СКРСТ - These are the quickest trains on the Russian network, serving Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Nizhny Novogorod. They offer European style seating, but no sleeper carriages.
  • Passazhirsky - Passenger Train - ПАСС - Passenger trains cover a wide variety of routes, stopping at nearly every station. This means that they are the slowest sleeper trains on the network; though it does mean they offer the greatest opportunity to get off the beaten track.

Chinese trains

There are two main categories of Chinese trains, high speed (bullet trains) and regular. When booking, the train number will always be preceded by one of the letters indicated below, i.e. G101, or Z101. This letter will tell you what kind of train it is, and how quickly you can expect to reach your destination.

High-speed trains (bullet trains):

  • G- trains (High Speed): the trains’ maximum speed will be 350km/h, and it will only stop at major stations along the route. There are no sleeping cars on this type of train. This is the fastest of all the trains operated by Chinese Railways.
  • D- trains: with a maximum speed of 250km/h, they usually connect the major cities.
  • C- trains (Intercity Trains): are available for short routes, they do not have any sleeping cars. These trains connect neighbouring cities.

Standard trains:

  • Z- trains (Direct Express): run directly to destinations either non-stop, or with very few stops at major stations (speed: around 160km/h)
  • T- trains (Express): like Z-trains, they run with limited stops at the largest stations (speed: around 140 km/h)
  • K- trains (Fast): with more stops than a T-train at major stations, the K-train is a slightly slower option (speed: around 120km/h)
  • K- trains (ordinary): an ordinary K-train has another four digits added to the ‘K’ prefix, such as 6, 7, 8 or 9. It stops at almost every station along the way (speed: around 100 km/h)
  • L- trains (Temporary): these operate mainly during public holidays, because of this, they often suffer from delays (speed: around 100km/h)
  • Y-trains (Tourism): these usually run during high travel season – i.e. during the summer and around public holidays (speed: around 100km/h)
  • S- trains (Suburban): these trains are used for commuting between the city centre and other suburban areas in some cities (speed: around 100km/h)

What do the train ticket classes mean?

Russian train classes

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

  • Spalny Vagon (First Class) - Each cabin has two lower berths, that act as seating during the day, with nine of these cabins in each carriage. The best services and staff are usually found on first class. First class is usually the most expensive way to travel.
  • Coupe (Second Class) - Each cabin has four berths, two lower, and two upper. During the day, the two lower berths will act as seating. There are nine of these cabins per carriage. Good services and staff are usually found on second class.
  • Plaskart (Third Class) - The carriages are open plan, with no doors on any compartment. Within each compartment there are four berths in the same layout as second class, with two additional berths lining the corridor wall, one up, one down. All lower berths act as seating during the day. The most basic of services are offered on third class. Third class is the cheapest way to see Russia by train.

Chinese train classes

The ticket classes on Chinese trains are different than the ones on Russian trains, though they also offer a comfortable experience.

On the bullet trains (G, D, C) you can find the following classes of travel:

  • Business class seat: these are the equivalent of first class on an airplane and are available only on G trains and some D train types. There are two sofa-like seats on one side of the aisle and one on the other side. The seats can be adjusted flat for passengers to lie down.
  • First class seat: there are four seats in a row, two on each side of the aisle. They are wider and softer than in second class.  You can find a small pillow and a foldable footrest.
  • Second class seat: there are five seats in a row, three on one side of the aisle and two on the other side. The seats are like those in economy class on an airplane. The backrest can be adjusted to a comfortable angle and has a small, foldable table attached. The seats can be rotated so the passengers can sit facing forward.

On the standard trains (non-bullet ones: Z, T, K, K,Y,S) you can book the following classes:

  • Deluxe sleeper - there are two berths on one side of the compartment and a sofa on the other side. The cabin has a lockable door.  Comparing with other classes of travel, the berth is 85 cm wide and 200cm long.
  • Soft sleeper – the 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 power socket in each compartment.
  • 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.

Train tickets with meals included

When booking your train ticket in certain classes, particularly those with the letter Э after the class number (i.e. 1, 2 or 3) meals are included. In our system, these are represented by this symbol - Meals icon - where 0 equates to the number of included meals. This will change dependent on the length of your journey. On your ticket, the number of meals will be represented by a ‘У’ icon followed by the number of meals; so, for example, У4. On each train the dining car will have variable opening hours, so to make the most of your included meals please ensure you check these times as soon as possible after you have boarded the train.

Please note: the number of meals are represented for the entire journey, not per day.

Train tickets with bed linen included

Bed linen is generally included as part of your ticket. Where it is not, you will need to purchase some when you board the train. It is not permissible to bring your own.

Passenger information included on train tickets

This will usually include the following information:

  • The passengers full name, as stated in the passport/official government ID used to book the ticket.
  • The passport/official government ID identification number used when purchasing the ticket.
  • Date and place of birth.
  • Citizenship.

It is very important that all this information is correct. It is possible to still board the train with one mistake, but any more than this will require a new ticket to be issued. For further information on this visit our Buying Russian Train Tickets page.

Further information about trains

For further information regarding purchasing train tickets visit our commonly asked questions page. For more general questions regarding Russian trains, visit our FAQ page. For any other questions, please visit our Knowledgebase, speak to fellow travellers on our Forum, or contact our travel experts directly.