Travelling by Train in Russia
When it comes to traveling by trains Russia probably has the largest train system for that. Nowadays most people travel by train in Russia. Here is why:
Travelling by plain is expensive; moreover, not so many cities have their own airports yet.
Travelling by bus is less convenient and more expensive, thought it may be less time-consuming if the situation on the roads in fine. However, roads in winter are too icy and dangerous for wheeled transportation.
Travelling by train in Russia is the cheapest and safest means of transportation for long distances.
The train system in Russia is very well-developed, so it is possible to get to smallest towns and even villages travelling by train.
However, if you plan on traveling by train in Russia, you should schedule travel arrangements in advance. Depending on the destination, people buy tickets several days in advance. You may also have a discount if you buy a train ticket more than 2 weeks in advance. Try to schedule travel time wisely if you have to catch other trains. However, you should also keep in mind that they can be sold out a week before some important Russian holidays, like New Year, Victory Day (May 9), Woman’s Day (March 8), etc. This is when many people in Russia go visit their relatives, or come home for the holidays if they work in the cities. Schedule travel time in advance to avoid this situation.
While being on the train it is important to secure your safety. Even though the times of post-soviet robbers that snooped around the whole Russian train system seem to be gone, there still may be thieves in the Russian trains, like anywhere else in the world. Keep an eye on your belongings, documents, and money while travelling. Consider yourself safe in most cases if you are travelling with Russian traders in the same compartment: they usually transport a lot of goods to their home towns, know how to protect themselves and do not get drunk.
So, another problem that you may face is people who drink in their train compartments. During their long trips across the country, some people develop a habit of passing their time that way. They are mainly young people; those who serve in the Russian Army and come home for a vacation; or old men travelling without their family. It would be wise not to talk to drunken strangers or join their parties on the train even though most Russian people may be friendly and harmless when they drink.
In general travelling by train in Russian may be quite a pleasant experience. It is not luxurious and sometimes it is lacking some conditions, but it may be an adventurous journey. The conductor will give you tea, coffee and fresh linen for a small fee. However you can also make tea, coffee or prepare dehydrated food by yourself, because there is always hot boiled water in any wagon. The romanticism of the long trips by train in Russia is casted by the beautiful sceneries and picturesque landscapes; long cordial talks with fellow passengers and neighbors; and music played in the wagon.