Buy train tickets for Russia online

Click the image above to buy at details.

Trans-Siberian journey planner & ticket sales

Arrange a Russian visa


Times, fares & tickets in Russia...

The Russian rail system is one of the largest in the world, and trains serve almost every town and city in Russia.  Train travel is a safe, comfortable and inexpensive way to get around.  In fact, it can be safer to use Russian trains than internal flights!  It will certainly be cheaper and far more interesting.  This page will help you understand Russian train system, choose the right train & on-board accommodation for you, and buy your train tickets securely online from a reputable source.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  The Foreign Office now advises against all travel to Russia because of the war between Russia & Ukraine, see  I have left this page as is, but Real Russia is no longer trading because of sanctions and the Russian Railways website is currently unreachable.

small bullet point  How to check train times & fares in Russia

small bullet point  Moscow to St Petersburg by train - a quick guide

small bullet point  How to buy Russian train tickets online

small bullet point  How to buy Russian train tickets at the station

small bullet point  What are Russian trains like?

small bullet point  Hotels in Russia

On other pages

small bullet point  Russian visas & how to get one

small bullet point  Useful country information: Time zone, currency...

small bullet point  Train travel from London to Moscow

small bullet point  How to book a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway

small bullet point  Trains from Moscow to Central Asia

small bullet point  Moscow & St Petersburg to Helsinki by train    

small bullet point  Moscow & St Petersburg to Tallinn by train

small bullet point  Moscow & St Petersburg to Riga by train

small bullet point  The Paris-Moscow Express

How to check Russian train times & fares

There are several ways to check train times & fares for journeys within Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the other ex-Soviet republics:

Booking tips

Moscow to St Petersburg by train:  A quick guide...

Moscow to St Petersburg option 1:  By Sapsan high-speed train in 3h55

All baggage is X-rayed before you board a Sapsan, so arrive in good time for your train...

Sapsan train   2nd class seats on a Sapsan train.

A 150mph Sapsan train between Moscow and St Petersburg.  Above right, 2nd class seats on the Sapsan train.  Photos courtesy of Mark Pascoe

Moscow to St Petersburg option 2:  By sleeper train, including the famous Krasnaya Strela (Red Arrow)

A 2-berth first class sleeper on the Krasnya Strela train from St Petersburg to Moscow   The most famous train from St Petersburg to Moscow:  The Krasnaya Strela or 'Red Arrow'.  You can now buy Russian train tickets online.

A first class 2-berth sleeper on the Krasnaya Strela, from Moscow to St Petersburg.  Photo courtesy of Chris Sparks


Train number 1, the famous Krasnaya Strela  (Red Arrow) from St Petersburg to Moscow.  Photo courtesy of Chris Sparks

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Buy tickets online from Real Russia

You can buy tickets online in plain English from, with good after-sales service if you need it.  This system is good for checking Russian train times, too, even if you plan to buy tickets at the ticket office.  You can use it to buy Russian train tickets wherever you live in the world.  If you live in the UK they can also sort your Russian visa & visa support.

Buy Russian train tickets online

Trans-Siberian journey planner & ticket sales

Arrange a Russian visa


Which tickets can Real Russia sell?  They sell tickets for any mainline train journey within Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Lithuania, Kazakhstan and the other ex-Soviet states, also for international journeys to or from those countries, for example Moscow to Berlin or St Petersburg to Helsinki, and also for Russian sleeping-car services within Europe, for example Paris-Moscow, Paris-Berlin or Budapest-Sofia. 

Reservations officially open 60 days before departure, but Real Russia allow you to request tickets up to 180 days ahead and they will contact you for payment when the price is confirmed.

Can anyone buy tickets using this system?  Yes, you can buy tickets online with a credit card whether you live in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, or wherever.

How are tickets delivered?  If your train is e-ticketable, an e-ticket will be emailed to you.  If it's not, tickets can be collected free of charge at Real Russia's offices in Moscow or St Petersburg or they can be sent to any address worldwide.  Postage to a UK or EU address costs around £12-£15.

Who run this service?  Is it reliable?  This service is provided by Real Russia, a reputable joint UK-Russian company which has got very good reports from users.  Real Russia can also sort out your Russian visa & if necessary, Belarusian visa.

Booking tips Look for a train marked Firm if there is one. Firmeny trains are the best 'quality' trains, with modern coaches and good on-board service.  'TBC' means the system cannot provide a price for that particular train automatically, but they'll contact you with a cost by phone or email.  Note that even babies & infants need to have a ticket booked for them, even though they travel for free.

Is it cheaper to buy at the ticket office?  Real Russia charge the normal Russian Railways fare plus a mark-up to cover their costs (all agencies charge a mark-up).  There's a 2.5% charge for credit card payments, but you can easily avoid this by calling their UK office to pay by debit card when your tickets are confirmed.  The fares shown include the mark-up, but not the credit card charge.  By all means buy tickets at the ticket office if you're flexible, but Russian trains can get fully-booked so it's good to pre-book if you want a specific date and train.  Russian Railways offer online booking but it's only in Russian, so it can be worth the extra to quickly and simply organise your Russian rail tickets in English.

Buy tickets online at

You can also now buy Russian train tickets direct from Russian Railways at which now has an English version.  It's a bit fiddly and not as user-friendly as Real Russia, but there are no fees and it does work if you persevere.  It accepts some overseas credit cards, though not all.  It may currently reject US-issued cards, though perhaps not all.

How to buy tickets at the station

The cheapest place to buy Russian train tickets is at the station reservation office.  Here are some tips:

Other agencies who can arrange Russian train tickets

You can also arrange train travel in Russia through several Russian agencies, including:

Feedback from 'seat61' correspondents has generally been very positive about the first three of these Russian agencies, nothing has yet been received about the All-Russia agency.  Remember that Russian train reservations only open 60 days before departure, so reservations cannot be confirmed before bookings open - although obviously, you can contact the agency and arrange the booking beforehand.  Some agencies appear to operate a waiting list system for key Trans-Siberian trains.

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What are the trains like?

The three types of train

There are three main categories of long-distance train in Russia:

The three classes of accommodation

Long-distance trains within Russia and the former Soviet republics have three main classes, all designed for both daytime and overnight travel given the distances covered by many trains:

Spalny Vagon (1st class)


2-berth compartments, 9 compartments per coach, with both beds at the lower level either side of the compartment.  Washrooms and toilets are at the end of the corridor.  It's twice the price of travelling kupé, although you get twice the space per passenger, so it's recommended for those who want extra privacy and space and who can afford it.  SV is also known as 'myagky' or 'lyux'.  On the best 'firmeny' trains you can often buy tickets with or without 'service', meaning with or without bedding and meals included.

In addition to the normal 2-berth sleepers, the best Moscow-St Petersburg overnight train (the 'Krasnaya Strela or 'Red Arrow') also has two deluxe sleeping-cars with 1- & 2-bed compartments with private toilet and shower and TV / DVD entertainment system.  These deluxe sleepers were introduced in 2004.

Kupé (2nd class)

4-berth compartments, 9 compartments per coach.  Washrooms and toilets are at the end of the corridor.  Kupé is recommended as the class chosen by most visitors to Russia.  On the best 'firmeny' trains you can often buy kupé tickets with or without 'service', meaning with or without bedding and meals included.

Platskartny (3rd class)

Open-plan dormitory cars.  There are 54 bunks per coach, arranged in bays of 4 on one side of the aisle and bays of 2 along the coach wall on the other side of the aisle.  Recommended for the most budget-conscious and adventurous visitors.

Other classes...

Strictly-speaking, you'll also find basic seats on some long distance trains and on local or suburban trains, known as 'Obshchi', but this isn't intended for long-distance travel and is not recommended.  There are now a number of daytime expresses between cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, and these have comfortable airline-style seating in ordinary and 'business' classes rather than the sleeper-based classes described above.

2-berth first class compartment on the 'Rossiya' from Moscow to Vladivostok    Russian trains:  'Kupé' class 4-berth sleepers      Russian trains: 'Platskartny' class sleepers

Spalny Vagon.  A comfortable 2-berth spalny wagon compartment on a quality firmeny train, in this case the Moscow-Vladivostok RossiyaPhoto courtesy of Daniel Brewster.


Kupé.  Lockable 4-berth compartments.  This is an older train - newer coaches have more modern compartments.  Courtesy David Smith


Platskartny.  54 bunks per coach, arranged open-plan in bays of 4 (left of photo) & longitudinal bays of 2 above & below the window (right of photo). 

Life on board Russian trains

Whichever class of travel you choose, each coach is looked after by a pair of attendants called a 'provodnik' (male) or 'provodnitsa' (female).  The provodnik will check your ticket at the door to the sleeper when you board.  Shortly after departure, the provodnik will come round to take your ticket and the small bedding fee (less than £1).  You may be asked if you would like a glass of black Russian tea ('chai') - this costs about 15p.  Bedding (two sheets, pillowcase and towel) is then handed out in sealed packs - blankets and mattresses will already be stacked in your compartment.  After a few journeys, you will become quite proficient at making up your bed!

A samovar with unlimited free hot water is available at the end of the corridor - pack some tea or coffee, sugar, cuppa soups or water-based drinking chocolate and bring your own mug.   Most long distance trains have a restaurant car serving drinks, snacks, and inexpensive full meals - reckon on less than £7 for two courses and a couple of bottles of beer.

Security.  Are Russian trains safe for families or single women?

Yes!  There is no need to worry unduly about security on Russian trains, even for families or women travelling alone. How do you think Russian families or solo women travel?  By train, of course, like everyone else!   Just use common sense as you would in a hotel, locking your door at night and not leaving valuables unattended in your compartment.  In addition to the normal lock on the compartment door, 'Spalny Wagon' and 'kupé' compartments have a security latch which stops the door opening more than an inch or two, and which cannot be released from outside.  There's also a safe place for your bags at night - if you have a bottom bunk, there is a metal box underneath the bunk which you can only get to by lifting up the bunk - in other words, for anyone to get to your bags, they will have to shift you off your bunk first..!  Your provodniks will probably also lock the access doors at each end of the corridor at night to prevent unwanted guests.  Men and women share the same compartments in Russia, but it's generally quite safe for women travelling alone.  If you're a woman and find yourself in sharing with three men that make you uncomfortable, just ask the provodniks (carriage attendants) if they can move you.

Hoovering the carpet in the train corridor   Typical Russian train

A typical Russian long-distance sleeper train, in RZD's new standard grey-and-red colour scheme.  Above left, a carriage provodnitsa hoovers the corridor carpet.  Photos courtesy of David Smith.

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European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online at (UK addresses) or (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at (shipping worldwide) or at (UK addresses).

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Recommended guidebooks

You should take a good guidebook, and a phrasebook can help too.  I think the Lonely Planets and Rough Guides are about the best there are for the independent traveller, and you will not regret buying one of these!Amazon logo

Click the images to buy the book from

Lonely Planet Russia - click to buy online   Lonely Planet Russia - click to buy online   Lonely Planet Russia - click to buy online   Lonely Planet St petersburg guidebook

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Hotels in Moscow & Russia

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

Backpacker hostels  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

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Travel insurance & VPN


Staysure travel insurance


Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with myself.  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flag offers enhanced Covid-19 protection and gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA. logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a European mobile data package and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility list.  There's no need to buy a physical SIM card! is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.


Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than getting a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.


Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When travelling you may use free public WiFi which is often insecure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with using this link you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I also get some commission to help support this site.


Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, hotel bookings and Interrail or Eurail passes are often now held on your mobile phone.  You daren't let it run out of power, and you can't always rely on the phone's internal battery or on being near a power outlet.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over.  Buy from or buy from

Touring cities?  Use hill walking shoes!

One of the best things I've done is swap my normal shoes for hill-walking shoes, in my case from Scarpa.  They're intended for hiking across the Pennines not wandering around Florence, but the support and cushioning for hiking works equally well when you're on your feet all day exploring foreign cities.  My feet used to give out first and limit my day, now the rest of me gives up before they do!


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