What kind of services to expect onboard a Russian train

What kind of services to expect onboard a Russian train

Photo by RZD.ru

If your holiday to Russia will include a train journey, then knowing what services to expect on board will help you to properly prepare and pack for your trip. This is especially crucial for long-distance trains like the Trans-Siberian (a multi-day journey with inadequate food or toiletries does not make for a fun holiday) and is also helpful for a high-speed hop between St Petersburg and Moscow (with free films, slippers and blanket included!) We’ve provided a guide to the on-board services you’ll find on two categories of Russian train: long-distance and high-speed.

Russian long-distance train

Photo by RZD.ru

Food on board

When making an intercity journey on a Russian train, you can expect refreshments during your trip – whether this is a complimentary meal included in your ticket price (indicated by the letter “Y” on your ticket) or a restaurant car where you can stock up on snacks.

  • Long-distance trains: on sleeper trains the complimentary meal service usually starts from 2nd class. It can range from a cold sandwich and bottle of water to a multi-course hot breakfast, fruit, and chocolate, depending on the service and carriage class. Check your ticket carefully before travelling and bear in mind that “Y” means one meal per ticket, not per day.

The vast majority of long-distance trains also have a restaurant car, with the exception of a couple of non-branded sleeper services between St Petersburg and Moscow. When travelling on the Trans-Mongolian or Trans-Manchurian, the restaurant car will be switched to serve the local cuisine after you cross the border.

  • High-speed trains: on the Sapsan, Lastochka, and Strizh, complimentary meals are served from Economy+, Business, and 1st class tickets respectively. Depending on the train and carriage class this can range from a croissant and cold drink to a three-course dinner including wine. There is a restaurant car on Sapsan and a restaurant and buffet car on Strizh, but no restaurant car on Lastochka, only a trolley service.
    You can learn more about meals on Russian trains here.

Toiletry and travel kits

To make your journey as comfortable as possible, some tickets on Russian trains include travel and toiletry sets. The contents of each kit depends on your carriage class and train – but they can include a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, soap, wet wipes, mini shoehorn, slippers, plastic cutlery, and even a needle and thread!

  • Long-distance: usually you will receive a toiletry and travel kit as part of a top tier ticket – for example 1st class on the #061/062 and 2nd class on the Rossiya Trans-Siberian trains, as well as in all carriage classes on the Red Arrow sleeper between Moscow and St Petersburg.
  • High-speed: travel kits are given to passengers starting from Business class on Lastochka, 1st class on Strizh, and from Business class on Sapsan train (as well as a travel kit, Sapsan passengers also receive a blanket and pillow!)

Read our article to find out more about the differences between Russian high-speed trains.

train bed linen

Photo by RZD.ru

Bed linen

If you will be travelling by sleeper train during your holiday to Russia, don’t stress: there’s no need to cram bedding into your suitcase, as you’ll be provided with a pillow, duvet, and fresh sheets on board the train. If you’re travelling in 1st or 2nd class on a branded train, cotton linen is included in the ticket price and your bed might even be made up for you before you board! 3rd class passengers on non-branded trains aren’t so lucky. They usually have to pay separately for linen, make their own bed, and return their bedding to the attendant the next morning.

train wc

Photo by RZD.ru

WC and shower

Two of the most important facilities you need when travelling (especially on a long-distance journey) are a toilet and shower. What can you expect on board a Russian train?

  • Long-distance trains: as a general rule each 3rd, 2nd and 1st class carriage contains two European-style toilets, but no showers (with the exception of the brand-new Rossiya train which also boasts a shower in each carriage). If you would prefer a private shower and toilet, then you should book the highest class of cabin on certain trains – for example Grand class cabins on the Grand Express, VIP on the Red Arrow, VIP on the Trans-Siberian Rossiya, and 1st class cabins on the Trans-Mongolian train #003/004 which share a toilet and shower between two neighbouring compartments.
  • High-speed trains: there is at least one European-style toilet in each carriage on the high-speed trains, including at least one disabled toilet on every train. There are no showers on high-speed trains, with one rare exception: the Deluxe class sleeper cabins aboard the Strizh, where you can take a nap and have a shower on your journey from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod if you so wish!

train wifi

Photo by RZD.ru


While we’d recommend that you spend your Russian train journey admiring the passing landscape instead of checking your work emails, we understand that omnipresent internet really is a necessity nowadays. How else would you post your beautiful Russian Instagram snaps?

  • Long-distance trains: internet access on sleeper trains depends on the service and its route. Wi-Fi is available on the Red Arrow, Grand Express and a handful of other branded trains running between the two capitals but is not available on non-branded trains. Wi-Fi is also available in 2nd class on the Rossiya train and in 1st class on the #061/062 train. With that said, the internet in Siberia and the Far East isn’t the best so you should bring a book to pass the time.
  • High-speed trains: every passenger is entitled to free internet on board the Sapsan, although those in Basic class are restricted to just 15 minutes. There is also internet access on the Strizh, which is free for 1st class passengers. There is no internet access on board the Lastochka.

Once you have your tickets, look forward to a wonderful, smooth
and enjoyable journey through the Russian countryside.

Buy your ticket safely and securely and then sit back
and enjoy the ride!

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