There are two main types of long-distance trains in Russia: high-speed trains for fast traveling between the neighboring cities and sleeper trains for comfortable overnight journeys or multi-day trips.
High-speed trains of Russia
High-speed trains are modern seating European-standard trains capable of developing speeds from 160 up to 250 km/h. They offer fast and comfortable trips from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, Berlin, Nizhny Novgorod, Smolensk, Tver, Orel, Kursk, and some other towns, as well as from Saint Petersburg to Helsinki, Veliky Novgorod, Petrozavodsk, and some smaller towns. High-speed trains also operate between Petrozavodsk and Novgorod Veliky, Krasnodar and Adler, and several other routes.
Travel time of the trains of this type does not exceed 4 hours and allows passengers to reach their destination in a fast and comfortable way. Departures of such trains are usually scheduled for the morning or the afternoon time. Below is the list of Russia's high-speed trains.
Sapsan train is a comparatively new option for traveling from Moscow to Saint Petersburg and back within 4 hours of time almost without stops. Sapsan connects two main train stations in Moscow and Saint Petersburg which allows passengers to avoid long and exhausting commuting from an airport to the city center and receive high-quality service along the way at the same time. There are from 10 to 16 departures a day from both cities which makes it quite easy to choose a convenient time. Sapsan trains allow different ticket classes — from the simple economy class to a premium coach with meals, WI-FI, and additional leg space.
High-speed Allegro trains depart four times a day from Helsinki and from St. Petersburg. It takes about 3 hours to reach the capital of Finland from Saint Petersburg including the customs clearance procedure. Allegro trains offer economy and business seat types, free WI-FI, a restaurant cabin, and a children’s area.
Lastochka train (“Swallow” in Russian) is a modern and faster alternative to Russian “electrichka” (commuter train). It covers many destinations and connects major Moscow and Saint Petersburg with Nizhny Novgorod, Velikiy Novgorod, Petrozavodsk, Tver, and other Russian cities and towns. There are two types of carriages in Lastochka trains: the one with the option of choosing a seat and the one where you can buy only general admission tickets.
Swift (Strizh) train
Swift trains connect Moscow with Nizhny Novgorod in less than 4 hours. There is also a Swift train between Moscow and Berlin which has both seating and sleeping coaches and allows passengers to reach the capital of Germany from Moscow in less than 24 hours.
Sleeper Russian trains
Sleeper trains are specially designed for overnight and multi-day journeys and have special bunks for sleeping. To make a long trip more comfortable most trains offer tea, coffee, snacks or even hot meals. There are fast sleeper trains that have a minimal amount of stops between main destinations and regular trains that travel longer due to multiple 3-20 minutes stops on the way.
Among long-distance trains you can find branded (so-called ‘firmenny’) and non-branded trains. Branded trains have their unique design and name and usually, offer a higher quality of service. They cost higher than simple non-branded trains but provide the passengers with extra services during the trip like hot meals, daily cleaning, a restaurant car, often they have also special identity in decoration (like uniquely colored curtains, carpets, tablecloths and uniform of train conductors) and other privileges (like high-quality linen).
There are three types of carriages in the sleeper trains: 1st (SV), 2nd (Kupe), and 3rd class (Platzkart). Some long-distance trains also have seating carriages but this is not a very common option. Third class carriages are divided into open compartments each of 4 berths in a non-enclosed area. There are two lower and two upper berths in each unit on one side of the carriage and another two bunks (upper and lower) on the opposite side. The 2nd class includes 2 lower and 2 upper berths in one enclosed room. 1st class cabins have 2 lower sofas or 1 lower and 1 upper berth in a room and often include hot meals. Some trains also have premium class carriages (or so-called Soft carriages) which can be compared with a good hotel and offer extra comfort and a wider range of services. Compartments in such types of carriages are more spacious than regular; among their privileges are wider couchettes and private bathrooms.