Train Travel in Russia
Information on getting around the country by train using the Russian rail network...
Russia’s 85,000 Km of railways are a popular way to get around the country. Classic journeys include the Trans-Siberian Railway between Moscow and the far east of Russia, which is the longest railway in the world at more than 9,000 Km. It is also possible to link into rail networks in countries such as China, Finland, Germany, Poland and Mongolia.
The network is run by Russian Railways (Rossiyskiye Zheleznye Dorogi - RZD). Its English-language website includes timetables and a network map.
- Russian Railways
At: Novaya Basmannaya 2, Moscow 107174
Tel: (499) 262 1628, Information Centre (800) 755 0000 (toll-free, 24/7)
- For more information: Click here
Buying tickets is best done at a station. English is rarely spoken, but with the help of a map in Russian, and some prior research online, purchasing tickets for the correct journey should be relatively simple for non-Russian speakers.
- For the locations of ticket offices throughout Russia: Click here
- For an explanation of a Russian train ticket: Click here
Alternatively, tickets can be purchased through one of the many ticket agencies that can be found online, although there are extra charges for their services. It is not possible to print a ticket off, so delivery or collection will have to be arranged before travelling.
In large cities such as Moscow, there are several stations, so it is important to find out which station serves the destination required.
Local or commuter trains service the areas outside the main cities. Services usually link in with metro lines or bus routes. Not all trains stop at every station, so it is important to check before boarding. Slower trains make more stops, while express trains stop less frequently. Train services generally run on time, and fares are relatively cheap.
Russia has some quality underground systems, with Moscow’s the third-busiest in the world behind Tokyo and Seoul. There are also metro networks in St Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Samara and Yekaterinburg.
In Moscow and St Petersburg, the systems are very deep underground, as they were designed to double as shelters during the Cold War. They are also city landmarks, with impressive architecture and designs in the stations intended as a display of the success and power of socialism under Stalin. In Moscow, the “brown line” is particularly worth a ride, as are visits to Komsomolskaya and Mayakovskaya stations, the latter of which is a Unesco-designated monument of world architecture.
In general, services are fast and frequent; a few minutes’ wait is common, but there is sometimes as little as 90 seconds between trains at peak times. In rush hour, trains get extremely busy. It can be hard to get a seat, there may be a crush to get into a carriage and it is advisable to be on guard for pickpockets.
Signs and announcements in stations and on trains are usually only in Russian, but there are often maps in Russian and English in every carriage, usually near the doors. The whole city is often covered by a single zone, so it is simple to buy tickets. Stations are easily identifiable by large “M” signs at the entrance.
The Moscow metro has 12 lines, with 186 stations that are open from 06:00 to 01:00. It carries more than seven million people every weekday. Tickets are cheap, and must be purchased every time when entering the metro system. Multiple-ride tickets and city-wide passes can also be bought.
- For a list of prices: Click here
- For a map of the network, with a travel time calculator: Click here
- To see pictures from Moscow’s metro stations: Click here
The metro in St Petersburg has five lines, 65 stations and carries more than two million passengers a day.