What Services to Expect on Siberia Trains
Riding aboard a train can be a unique experience to add to your Russian vacation. With famous and historical trains and railways, long routes, international options and many sights lying along the route, it’s no wonder so many people enjoy seeing Russia on locomotives. Knowing what services to expect on board will make your vacation more enjoyable. Multi-day journeys like the Trans Siberian Railway require proactive packing, while high-speed zips between metropolises like St. Petersburg and Moscow offer more perks than you might need.
Food on a Train
Train tickets usually include one meal (one no matter the trip length). A meal is represented by the letter “Y” printed on the ticket. Restaurant cars let you dine or just carry back a few snacks.
- Long-distance trains: Overnight trains offer a meal from second class up. For the less expensive classes, it may be as simple as a sandwich and bottle of water. More expensive tickets might include a hot breakfast, fruit and chocolate.
Most long-distance trains have a restaurant car. A few non-branded overnight trains between Moscow and St. Petersburg don’t have one. When crossing a border on Siberia trains like the Trans-Mongolian, or on the Trans-Manchurian, the cuisine changes to that of the current country.
- High-speed trains: The train and carriage class determine what is served. Included meals begin at the Economy+ level on the Sapsan. The Lastochka has them in Business Class, and the Strizh has meals in First Class. Some offer multiple courses with wine, while others provide only a croissant and cold drink. A restaurant car on the Sapsan serves food. There’s a buffet car on the Strizh. The Lastochka serves food from a trolley. Russian trains’ dining options are explained better here.
Toiletry and Travel Kits
To ensure your needs are met, many tickets include travel and toiletry kits. Of course, the goodies inside depend on the brand of train and class. They might have some combination of a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, soap, wet wipes, mini shoehorn, slippers and plastic cutlery. Some even include a needle and thread to keep your clothes spiffy.
- Long-Distance Trains: A toiletry and travel kit comes with the best class tickets. First Class on the #61/062 and Second Class on the Rossiya Trans-Siberian trains offer kits. The Red Arrow that runs between St. Petersburg and Moscow has travel kits for all classes.
- High-Speed: Travel kits are awarded in Business Class on the Lastochka and Sapsan (with a blanket and pillow). First class on the Strizh has kits.
Duvets, pillows and sheets are provided on trains. In some first and second classes, cotton sheets are included. Third-class tickets usually charge for linen, and you must make up and strip the beds.
Everyone needs a bathroom at some point, and it’s good to know ahead of time what to expect on a train.
- Long-distance trains: All carriages have two European-style toilets. Only the Rossiya train includes a shower. The highest classes of a few trains have showers: Grand Class on the Grand Express, VIP Class on the Red Arrow and the Trans-Siberian Rossiya. First Class on the Trans-Mongolian #003/004 has a toilet and shower between two compartments.
- High-speed trains: One European-style toilet is available in each carriage on high-speed trains. Only one fast train offers a shower. It’s the Deluxe Class on the Strizh. Passengers on the Strizh can enjoy a shower on the Moscow Nizhny Novgorod line.
Hopefully, you’ll only use the internet when you need to add to the details of your fantastic itinerary and not to work. However you’ll use it, here is a rundown of internet availability.
- Long-distance trains: Your WiFi needs can be met best on the Grand Express, Red Arrow and other branded trains running between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Second class on the Rossiya train and First on the #061/062 has it too. The internet in Siberia and the Far East is spotty, so plan to otherwise entertain yourself.
- High-speed trains: The Sapsan is a fountain of internet in every class except basic, which only allows 15 minutes. The Strizh Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod train has free internet in first class. The Lastochka is more of a book and newspaper train.