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.

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 3 hours 55 minutes...

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 for £9.67 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 site: is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites: is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on,, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

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Travel insurance & VPN


Staysure travel insurance 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 use an annual policy 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 offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see - 10% discount with code seat61.

UK flagYou can use to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

 Australian flag New Zealand flag  Irish flag    If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct.

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


Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  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 balance 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 app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending 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, too.


Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.


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