Russia is big and one of the best way to travel across this huge territory is to take the train! If you’re full of clichés, and I know you are, you would think that taking the train in Russia is horrible and difficult. Spoiler: you’re wrong. You might face lot of difficulties while in Russia but trains are definitely not one of them. Trains are always clean (even if some of them are super old) and one time (super impressive to be honest). So if you’re traveling across Russia, I would definitely recommend you to take the train.
But taking the train in Russia, you must obey to certain rules. Like not official rules but more officious and cultural ones. More, you should try to know a bit more on Russian trains (as you did with the subway).
The Russian railway company is RZD. It has three main categories of trains, the high speed trains (those with which you’re doing St. Petersburg-Moscow in a bit more than 3 hours), the regional trains and what I would call the “normal” night trains.
You also have a third category made of special trains (transsiberian…), but well these are really special. Regional trains are working as in many countries: you buy a ticket at the station, and seat in the train. The only special thing is that they are well-organised seller within the train so if you need something don’t worry, you’ll be able to buy it. Back to normal night trains, you have 3 classes:
- The First: two very comfortable beds, common bathrooms and toilets, air conditioner, linens, meal, travel kits… Very nice and comfy but expensive.
- The Kupe: a bit like the first but with 4 beds, which means that you’ll meet people! And also, you don’t have a meal. No you don’t. So you must think about it. The kupe is a good way to travel as it’s very clean and comfy, but you also have the experience of meeting people.
- The Platskart: my favorite! And it’s quite a surprise since I’m kind of a prince that only likes good, comfortable and of a high standards things. The platskart is basically a dormitory. An old one. But for the price it’s amazing. You have linens and hot water at your disposal (and a toilet of course) and you meet the real Russians. It’s safe and to be honest it won’t be your best night of the year but we can sleep very well. I highly recommend it!
If you’re traveling in either kupe or platskart, you have some rules to follow. Indeed, beds are separated by a table, common to all the 4 passengers. Therefore, when arriving in the train, people use to seat in the under bed…even if it’s not theirs. No matter if you’re sleeping on the under or upper beds, the under ones are considered as seats when not sleeping. That’s why usually people make their bed late and enjoy the first hours of travel to eat, drink tea or discuss. After a bit of time (you have to feel these things) the ones with the upper beds make their beds. Ones they’re ready, they often stay in them even if it’s quite early. It allows the ones on the under beds to make their bed and go to sleep if needed. In the morning, the staff will wake you up. You usually have to undo your bed and let your linens to a side of the train.
All is easy and very well-organised! Traveling across Russia is an amazing experience that will allow you to discover its stunning landscapes, fastly cover huge distances and meet the real people. So jump on the next train and let see where it goes!
Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!