| 4 min read
First things first, there is no such thing as the ‘Trans-Siberian Railway’. Instead, it’s actually a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East. This means that if you want to travel through Russia, you’ll have to buy the tickets for all the separate legs individually. The process might seem intimidating at first, but by following these steps, booking a ticket on the Russian Railway website become relatively easy.
The place to be is the official website of the Russian Railways. RZD is short for “Rossijskie železnye dorogi” (Russian Railways). They have an English version of their website where you can easily go through the entire booking process.
Tip for those who prefer to use the Russian version: If don’t know how to write the city names in Russian, use Google Translate to translate the names in the Cyrillic alphabet. Even if the suggested translation is not exactly what you need, at least you’ll be able to select the correct option from the dropdown menu on the RZD website. If you have different options for the same city, 'glavni' is usually the addition for the ‘main’ railway station.
The next page displays all the available trains on the selected day, their time of arrival and departure, and their duration. This is where you’ll have to select your class: luxury class ('lux') first class (CB or ‘1-cl. Sleeping compt.’), second class ('coupé' or ‘2-cl. Sleeping compt.’) or third class ('platzkarti' or ‘3-cl. Open sleeping’).
The luxury classes are usually on different, air-conditioned trains, so I don’t know what they look like. In first class you’ll get two bunk beds, a couch and a table in a private compartment. In second class, you’ll get a bunk bed in a four-person compartment. In the third class, there are no separate compartments (and no privacy). Nevertheless, this is how we traveled all the time and we did consider them relatively comfortable. The carriages are clean and generally, people are respectful and not too noisy.
Click on the grey button ‘car’ to pick a bed. The arrows on the picture distinct between the upper (even number) and lower bunks (odd number). Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I liked the upper bed for the little privacy it offered, whereas the bottom bed was nice during the day, to sit upright or eat something at the bedside table. Usually, during daytime, the bottom bunk transforms into a bench, allowing the upper person to come down and sit there too. Upper bunks tend to be a bit cheaper.
Tip: When you’re two people, I’d recommend booking both a top and a bottom bed. Like that, you won’t disturb / be disturbed by other people who want to sit on your bed.
Via the button below the carriage map, you can pursue your purchase.
On the next page, you’ll be asked to register. Fill in all the fields and click Register. You’ll get a confirmation e-mail with a link to confirm your account.
Now you can proceed with your booking. When you’ve completed all the above-mentioned steps and clicked on the grey button after selecting your bed, you’ll be directed towards another page where more personal details are asked.
- Middle name: If you don’t have a middle name, just enter your family name again.
- Document type: If you’re not Russian, pick ‘ID document’ and enter your passport number.
- Travel insurance: If you don’t want to buy an insurance, you can tick off the two suggested insurance formulas. It’s not required.
Here again, you’ll have to select the bed you want. There is an option to ‘pay for bed clothes’ which costs around 140 rubles or 2 EUR. If you select this, you’ll receive clean sheets upon boarding. We’ve never payed for this since we traveled with our own sleeping bag.
Further below you can add a second passenger and enter his/her details.
If you accept the conditions, you can proceed to payment by credit card.
After booking the tickets, you’ll find them under ‘my orders’ ('moj biljeti')
It’s safer to print the tickets beforehand and exchange the voucher for a real train ticket before boarding. Nevertheless, in most cases, the code on the voucher should also suffice to board. Keep your passport ready too.
Good to know:
- You can only book two months in advance.
- Remember that all the schedules are in Moscow time, even though the cities belong to different time zones. Pay close attention as it can get very confusing.
Do you have questions? Did you experience something similar? Did you notice a mistake? Please share!