The Russian domestic rail network is vast, stretching from the Baltic coast in Europe to the Pacific cost in Asia. There are many different types of passenger train on the network including more recently many operated by private companies.
Russian trains generally fall into one of the following categories: Firmeny, Skory, Passenger or Elektrichki.
Firmeny trains are long distance trains operated by a private company. They usually have a name, a low train number and on the whole they are faster, cleaner, more comfortable (as well as more expensive) than other trains. Firmeny trains are indicted in our system by the icon next to the train number.
Train 2, “Rossia” (Russia) which connects Moscow and Vladivostok and train 2A, “Krasnaya Strella” (Red Arrow) which connects Moscow and Petersburg are two of the more famous firmeny trains.
All other long distance trains are either the not-so-aptly named Skorry Poyezdy (fast trains) or general Passenger trains.
The ordinary Passenger train proves for the transport of people, it is not a postal or general goods train that also takes passengers. The average speed of these trains is no more than 50 kmph and the quality of these services varies from good to poor, they are indicated by the icon in our system.
The Skorry trains are faster than an ordinary passenger train with an average speed of 50 kmph or higher, typically with fewer and shorter stops. Skorry trains are indicated in our system by the icon next to the train number.
In addition to being Firmeny or Skorry a train may also be of the “Express” class indicated in our system by the icon. This is the fastest train class available in Russia with an average speed of between 141 kmph and 200 kmph. These trains are rare and used on direct prestige routes and as such tend to provide high quality services and facilities. An example of this class of train is train 166А “Nevsky Express” which makes the 650 km trip between Moscow and St Petersburg in just four and a half hours.
For shorter trips most sizable Russian cities are surrounded by a network of elektrichki, or suburban trains. An elektrichka has no cabins or bunks and will usually stop everywhere (there are some faster ones on Moscow's surburban network), including places where the cows won't get off the tracks.
The main types of carriages on Russian trains are configured as listed below, within our system you will see the class of ticket and next to it the services available with that class as a series of icons, click on each of the icons for more information about the services.
First class sleeping carriages, also known as “lux”, comprises nine compartments for two people sharing and one compartment for one person. Each compartment has two berths to sit and sleep on with a table in between and the door can be locked. At each end of the carriage is a bathroom with toilet and wash basin. In first class compartments a passenger has the right to buy both tickets if they wish to have the compartment to themselves.
First class in a seating car (usually in express trains) has a table and extended room for legs.
In a second class sleeper carriage, also known as “Coupe”, there are four berths in each compartment; two lower and two upper ones. The door can be locked and by the window, there is a table. At each end of the carriage is a bathroom with toilet and wash basin. In second class compartments a passenger has the right to buy a maximum of two tickets, so two people travelling together could, if they wish, have the compartment to themselves.
The second class in a seating car does not have tables though does have soft seats, an advantage on a six hour journey!
Third class sleepers, also often known as “Plazcart”, are open compartments with no doors. Each compartment has four berths plus two berths over the corridor. At each end of the carriage is a bathroom with toilet and wash basin.
Although third class is not as private as first or second class it may be considered to be a safer option for women travelling alone as they do not risk sharing a closed compartment with a stranger, however, for me the Platzcart feels like it was made to transport troops and puts the sights, sounds, and smells of Russia right in your face!