►Transport ►Russian Trains ►Train tickets
When travelling by train in Russia you will need either an electronic or a paper ticket. The ticket contains all the necessary information about the train, including the price, the stations of departure and arrival, passport details (which will be checked when you embark on the train), the class of carriage and services included in the ticket price.
BUYING TRAIN TICKETS
Tickets can be bought on the internet on Russian Railways’ official website, from tourist agencies or at any railway station irrelevant of the destination. It is not possible to reserve tickets; you can only buy them outright. Your name and passport number will be printed on the train ticket, so you must have this information to hand when buying tickets. Tickets generally go on sale 45 days in advance (although tickets for some short-distance express trains go on sale later and tickets for some international destinations or special premium trains are available 60 days in advance).
On all train tickets (with the exception of the island of Sakhalin) the time is stated as Moscow Time. Therefore if you buy a ticket from Irkutsk to Vladivostok, to work out the time of departure you will have to add five hours (Irkutsk is five hours ahead of Moscow) and for the time of arrival you will need to add on seven hours (as Vladivostok is seven hours ahead). This may seem confusing but if you consider that the Trans-Siberian Railway crosses seven time zones, it is the most logical way of dealing with the time zone issue.
Trains for which tickets go on sale 60 days before departure:
- Train No. 1/No. 2 Moscow - Kazan (Tatarstan/Татарстан)
- Train No. 9/No. 10 Moscow - Saratov (Saratov/Саратов)
- Train No. 21/No. 22 Moscow - Ulyanovsk (Ulyanovsk/Ульяновск)
- Train No. 25/No. 26 Moscow - Voronezh (Voronezh/Воронеж)
- Train No. 29/No. 30 Moscow - Lipetsk (Lipetsk/Липецк)
- Train No. 31/No. 32 Moscow - Tambov (Tambov/Тамбов)
- Train No. 35/No. 36 Moscow - Nizhny Novgorod (Premium/Премиум)
- Train No. 141/No. 142 Moscow - Cheboksary (Cheboksary/Чебоксары)
- Train No. 805/No. 806 St Petersburg - Petrozavodsk (Petrozavodsk/Петрозаводск)
Russian Railways use a staggered pricing for all carriages except 3rd class open carriages (“platzkartny”) and seating carriages (“obschy”), meaning that if the later you buy the tickets the more expensive they will be. If you don’t speak any Russian you might have some difficulties buying train tickets in person, but it is possible. The Russian Railways website though has been translated into English.
The easiest way would be to buy your ticket from an English-speaking travel agency (such as RusMania!), but you will of course have to pay extra for this service. However it is probably worth the extra cost especially if you are travelling on the Trans-Siberian as your agent will be able to match up arrival times and select the best available trains; plus if you make a mistake with times it could cause major problems for the rest of your trip.
BUYING TICKETS ONLINE
It is very convenient to buy tickets on trains.rusmania.com as there are often queues at the railway station and online you will see all available options. On the site, once you type in your city of departure and arrival, you will see a list of all possible trains and be shown the amount of tickets available and their cost. Once you have selected your train you can then select which carriage and even which seat you want. Once you have paid for your ticket using a credit/debit card, will receive a route itinerary and not an actual paper ticket, unless if you have selected the option to register immediately online in which case you will receive an electronic ticket. Otherwise you can use the itinerary to get your paper ticket by handing it in at a ticket desk at any railway station or by using one of the special automatic machines located at the station.
BUYING TICKETS ON THE RAILWAY STATION
You can buy train tickets at the ticket windows at any railway station, which all use the same unified computer system for all Russian trains (there is normally a separate window for international trains).
Although it has been possible to buy train tickets online for a while now, you will still see long queues for train tickets at railway station – usually older people who don’t trust the internet or don’t have bank cards. The ticket staff will most likely not speak any English and they might not even have great patience in dealing with you and trying to understand you. It is best to state the date of departure, your destination, the name or time of the train, the class and the type of carriage – or you could write this information on paper and hand it to the cashier. You will need to show your passport or a list of passengers containing their full names, passport details, date of birth and nationality. At the ticket desks you will be issued with paper tickets, not electronic ones. Most large stations also have machines where you can print out tickets booked online or buy tickets using a credit/debit card and many of these machines are in English.
Train tickets can be refunded for a small commission which goes up as the train journey draws nearer. If you have paper tickets or have printed out tickets booked online you need to take these to a railway station for a refund. If you have booked online you can cancel the tickets and get a refund online.
Electronic registration is possible for trains 001 to 899 which run across Russia. By registering electronically, your name will appear on a list available to the conductor and you will receive confirmation of such electronic registration which you can either print out or receive on your smartphone. Electronic registration is not available for most trains which go abroad, except for some trains to Nice, Minsk, Brest and Paris. Electronic registration, when performed, will apply to all passengers in the order. It is not possible for one person in a single order to print out tickets and other people on the same order to undergo electronic registration. Electronic registration or cancellation of electronic registration is available until one hour before the train departs from its starting station. If you do not register electronically before this deadline you will have no option but to print out your tickets as usual.
Paper railway tickets are rather large and contain a lot of information, a lot of which is unnecessary for the traveller and only there for internal use. However all this information does make it hard to spot the necessary information, especially as it is only in Russian. Electronic tickets are much clearer and are in both Russian and English.
►Transport ►Russian Trains ►Train tickets
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