Time for a bad news/good news story!
Due to its long-term stability, the fact that it was capped against the Euro and because it is considered a ‘neutral currency’, many international Railway companies, including the Russian, Chinese and Mongolian railways, cost their international tickets in Swiss Francs, which are then paid for in local currency at the prevailing rate on the day of purchase. In particular, this process is used for booking tickets on international trains travelling along the iconic Trans-Siberian railway and it's off-shoots, the Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian.
On the 15th January 2015 the Swiss Central Bank shocked the international money markets and unexpectedly removed the Swiss Franc cap against the Euro.
When the cap was removed, the Swiss Franc rapidly strengthened in relation to many other currencies and, in particular, strengthened against the Russian rouble by more than 20% in a matter of hours.
This, in turn, had the immediate effect of pushing up the cost of international train tickets, such as those on the Trans-Siberian route, as more Roubles are now required to buy the same number of Swiss Francs.
To put this into context, assuming international tickets from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia were priced at 500 Swiss Francs on the 15th January 2015, and the starting Rouble rate for that day was 63.9, then the cost of the ticket would be 31,950 Roubles (€425). Less than one hour after the cap was removed, due to the Swiss Franc strengthening to 76 against the Rouble, the exact same ticket would cost 38,000 Roubles (€510).
That is the bad news.
There is, however, some good news.
Recently many other currencies have also strengthened relative to the Rouble, absorbing this cost increase, and then some. For example since January last year the Russian rouble has fallen against the US Dollar and other ‘hard currencies’, such as the British Pound, by over 45%.
This means that, on average, even though the Rouble cost of Trans-Siberian tickets shot up on the 15th January, today they are still up to 20% cheaper if you are buying in British Pounds, Euros or US Dollars than for many years.
When combined with Real Russia’s long standing relationship with Russian Railways, our experience in booking Trans-Siberian adventures and our policy to provide you with the best prices possible, it means there has never been a better time to travel along the world-famous Trans-Siberian railway.