Trains in Russia
Intercity Travel by Train in Russia
Travelling by train in Russia is an easy and accessible way to get around this vast country. The high-speed Sapsan train connects Moscow to the major cities of St Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, with journeys taking only 3 to 4 hours. The famous Trans-Siberian Express service also runs from Moscow in west Russia to Vladivostok in the east and is one of the world’s longest train journeys, spanning eight different time zones and also taking eight days to complete. Another popular route in Russia is the Golden Ring train route which connects Moscow with a collection of historical cities in western Russia.
Ready to book your trains in Russia?
Trainline is a partner of Real Russia, the Russian travel experts.
The process to buy Russian train tickets is very easy. All you need to do is enter the city of departure and arrival, travel dates and choose your preferred currency. Once you click on "search" you will see the trains, timetables, prices and services available for your search. The "Firm" option indicates Firmeny night-time luxury trains. Once the train has been chosen, select "continue", and a new page will open where you have to specify the number of passengers.
By clicking "continue" you will see the payment page. Before paying by credit card or debit card you will be asked to choose between the following ticket options:
- E-ticket (e-ticket): selecting this option you will receive an e-mail to be printed and you will have to exchange the ticket printed at the train station for the actual paper ticket.
- E-Registration: choosing this option means that your ticket is booked and the reservation is confirmed electronically, so a physical paper ticket is not required. You can simply hop on the train and travel by showing your passport or other ID used at the time of booking.
- Paper ticket: the booking is confirmed and a physical ticket is issued. You will then have to confirm the method of delivery or withdrawal of the ticket, for example, the ticket can be sent to any address in the UK by DHL courier by paying a surcharge.
- Sapsan high-speed trains: the comfortable and high-speed electric Sapsan trains service the routes between Moscow and St Petersburg, and Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod. These trains run at speeds of up to 250 km/h, and so can cover both long-distance journeys in 3 to 4 hours. They have between 10 to 20 carriages with Premium, Business, Economy Plus and Economy Class seats, as well as a restaurant on-board. Premium Class and Business Class fares come with a free hot meal and free Wi-fi.
- Firmeny night-time luxury trains: they are high-quality trains, often with names like "Red Arrow" or "Rossiya" and are indicated at the station with low numbers like "1" or "8". The carriages are modern but reminiscent of the style of the Tsars, they are usually equipped with air conditioning and on-board catering service. First-class cabins are available with two compartment beds, there are also private VIP cabins with showers and second-class cabins with 4 beds per compartment. These trains are used on the Trans-Siberian route from Moscow to Vladivistok and from Moscow to Beijing.
- Night express trains Skory: these are regional express night trains that are normally indicated by two numbers like "12" or "30". They are equipped with first class with two beds per compartment and second class with 4 beds per compartment. They are cheaper than Firmeny luxury trains.
- Passazhirsky night-time trains: these are ordinary night trains, often relatively slow and usually operated with older coaches. They are usually indicated with 3-digit numbers, for example "804". They are equipped with 3 classes of service: SV is the first class with two beds in one compartment, Kupe is the second class with 4 beds per compartment, Platkart is the third class with 6 beds in an open compartment. They are the cheapest overnight trains.
- Ordinary regional trains: cheap and often slow, they are equipped with first and second class services.
The railway stations in Moscow
Leningradsky station (trains to the north) to and from St. Petersburg, Novgorod, Tallinn and Helsinki.
Kazansky Station (trains to the south) to and from Kazan, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Ufa and Krasnoyarsk.
Yaroslavsky station (trains to the west including the Trans-Siberian trains) to and from Ekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Vladivostock.
Kursky Station: trains to and from Vladimir, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don.
Trains run to Riga from the Rizhsky station and trains to Kiev leave from Kievsky station.
The railway stations in St. Petersburg
Moskovsky Station (trains south) to and from Moscow, Novgorod.
Vitebsky station (trains east) to and from Minsk, Kiev, Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw.
Finlyandsky station: trains to Helsinki.
Ladozhsky station: regional trains to Moscow, Murmansk, Yekaterinburg, Arcangelsk.
The Trans-Siberian Express
The Trans-Siberian Express, one of the world’s longest and most famous train routes, runs through Russia. The journey connects Moscow and western Russia to far eastern Vladivostok. It passes through the Siberian wilderness, with impressive views of the Yenisei river, Lake Baikal, and the vast mountains and grasslands of Siberia. The train departs every 2nd day and the journey takes 6 days. Black and white posts on the side of the track, are placed every kilometre, indicating how far the train is from Moscow.
Many choose to break up the journey by staying overnight in some places. Vladimir might be the first of these. Only 2 hours 30 minutes into the journey, this town contains four UNESCO world heritage cathedrals. Nizhny Novgorod is also on the journey, known as Russia’s third capital situated on the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers. Down the line is Yekaterinburg, a larger city by population than Nizhny Novgorod, with plenty of museums and access to the Ural Mountains. Further down the line is Novosibirsk, the 3rd largest city in Russia. Later, the train stops at Krasnoyarsk, great for cruises along the Yenisei river, and Irkutsk, a popular starting point to explore Lake Baikal. Further still, Ulan Ude is well worth its visit, a former Mongolian colony which retains its influence today.
Alternatively many passengers take the train from Moscow to Beijing or vice versa. To do this, the Trans-Siberian express has two further branches. The first of these, known as the Trans-Mongolian route, travels from Moscow to Beijing, via Ulaanbaatar (the capital city of Mongolia). The second, the Trans-Manchurian route, is also from Moscow to Beijing, but this time via the Russian-influenced northern Chinese city of Harbin. Both routes pass the Great Wall of China. Trains run weekly and take 6 to 7 days. From Vladivostok, ferries run onwards to Japan via South Korea. Passengers arriving in Beijing can also take the train to Tianjin for ferries to South Korea or Shanghai for ferries to Japan. They can also take further connecting trains as far south as Singapore.
Going from Russia to western Europe
Moscow is also well connected to Europe with direct trains running there from Paris, Berlin, Warsaw and other cities. In fact, it’s possible to get to Moscow from the UK in 48 hours, using the Eurostar to Paris and then the Paris-Moscow Express sleeper train.
What to do in Russia
Moscow is the second largest megacity in Europe, eclipsed only by Istanbul. It therefore, has plenty to see and do. The city’s roads radiate outwards from the famous Red Square, which is overlooked by the Kremlin and the colourful Saint Basil’s cathedral. This all lights up at night in an impressive display. St Petersburg is also well worth visiting and its historic centre is a UNESCO world heritage site. The city offers a vast collection of impressive palaces, fortresses, estates and monuments to explore. Additionally, Nizhny Novgorod is a quaint city and the centre for river tourism in Russia.
For travellers with enough time on their hands, the Trans-Siberian Express offers a great chance to explore Russia’s vast expanse, stopping off at major towns along the way. The journey offers impressive views of the Yenisei River, the massive Lake Baikal, and the vast grasslands and mountains of Siberia. Depending on the direction of travel, the journey begins or ends in Vladivostok where the Golden Horn Bay looks out onto the Pacific Ocean.