Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Buying train tickets in Russia

By popular demand here is some info about buying train tickets for the Russian railways...

Buying tickets
Let me start by saying that many of the websites that claim to have some authority in the issue, are full of rubbish, they just want to sell you tickets! It is indeed both possible and feasible buying the tickets yourself inside Russia, even if you - like me - don't speak a word of Russian.

Basically I've found the best way to do it is to write all the information down on a paper in Cyrillic, and hand it to the ticket lady, I've found something like this works just fine...

No 002
Train No 2
22.05.2008 23:45
Departure date & time

Свердловск -> Иркутск
Route - you can find the city names in Cyrillic in the Lonely Planet
1 человек, Купе
1 Person (find this in lonely planet) and traveling on kupe (2nd class)

Sometimes the ticket lady will ask if you want upper or lower bunk, just point up or down. If the train is full, she will usually just wave her hands in front of her, in any case it always seem to work out just fine in the end - Although it can take up to a good 45 minutes to get your tickets, including the omnipresent Russian queuing. I've been traveling in May and June, and haven't had a single sold out train, even the infamous No 4 (Moscow - Beijing train) went smoothly, even if i bought it 2 days before departure.

If you are not that adventurous - The German Railways (DB) - sells ticket to all Russian trains. And the Finnish railways (VR) sells tickets to most destinations in European Russia. Also there is a Russian only page that enables you to book your tickets online, often the hostel will be able to book ahead for you, so you only have to hand in a reservation number at the station.

Platzkart or Kupe?
Lonely planet makes Platzkart much much worse than it is, if you've ever been on hard sleeper class in China, they are basically the same thing, I would even dare to say platzkart is a bit better.

Kupe is more or less the same standard as a western sleeper train, just with all the Russian nips that goes with it.

The more stops you do, the more expensive it gets, however, the money you save by buying the tickets inside Russia, will usually make you able to do at least 4-5 stops for the same price.

Here are my tickets so far
Saint Petersburg - Moscow, Kupe, Train 005, 54.60 Euro / 405 DKK (bought in Finland)
Vladimir - Nizhny Novgorod, First class, Train 062, 1296 RUB / 267 DKK
Nizhny Novgorod - Kazan, Platzkart, Train 041, 534 RUB / 110 DKK
Kazan - Ekaterinburg, Kupe, Train 378, 1640 RUB / 338 DKK
Ekaterinburg - Irkutsk, Kupe, Train 002, 8495 RUB / 1752 DKK
Irkutsk - Ulaan Bataar, Kupe, Train 004, 2594 RUB / 535 DKK

Total: Saint Petersburg - Ulaan Bataar 3407 DKK / 16516 RUB

- The lower the train number, the fewer stops (faster), the higher the price.
- Platzkart is usually half the price of kupe
- 1 st class is usually 2-3 times the price of kupe

If you go with trains in the 300-399 range where you don't pay premium for speed, and go platzkart all the way, you are looking at a altogether different budget. However the stretches are already really long, and if you go on a slow train, on platzkart, they will feel even longer!

Two sites have schedules in a comprehensible language

- German Railways (just type departure and arrival station in the normal schedule)

- YourTrain (has a funny transliteration of some roman letters)

Also, they have touch screen computers on all the major stations, with schedule and reservation info - it's in Russian/Cyrillic only, but if you play around with it for a bit, it’s pretty easy to figure out. All the menu's have icons that are pretty self explanatory. Just type in the destination in Cyrillic, and you can get information on when the trains are going (the icon with the clock and arrows) , and how many seats/beds that are available on the departure (the icon with the clock and seats - you'll need to type in the train number)

Hope that helps :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

[url=http://seexi.net]Моему сынуле 6 мес., а он не встает на ножки [/url]
Как заявить мужчине, что отношения завершились? Встречались возле года, со временем взяла в толк что не мой мужчина. Коллега по работе (мужчина) предложил вообще ничего не говорить, игнорировать, не отвечать на звонки, мол сам догадается, взрослый уже не мальчик.