Monday, November 11, 2013

Russian High Speed Trains

In the past few years the high speed trains that are found across Western Europe have begun penetrating Russia. So far the only routes available are between Helsinki, Finalnd and St. Petersburg, Russia, and between St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Russian Railways ( has plans to expand the network across the country eventually. In the meantime, the high speed trains that are operating sound interesting. They rival air transport in terms of time, particularly when you consider the cost and incomvenience of getting between the airports and downtown.

Fo instance, the train between St. Petersburg and Moscow takes just over three and a half hours, and delivers passengers to the downtown of both cities, not to distant airports. The cost is just over $100 one way, about double the cost of a regular train between these two cities. The high speed fare does include some soft and alcoholic drinks and snacks.

Sapsan is the name of the fast train between Moscow and Petersburg, while the one between Helsinki and Petersburg is called Allegro. I was especially glad to read about the new train between Helsinki and Petersburg, because I travelled this route in 2005 and was disasppointed. I chose to go first class going in from Helsinki on what turned out to be a Russian train. This was little better than a second class car in Western Europe. On the way back I went second class on a Finnish train, which lacked air-conditioning on a very hot summer day.

I wanted to travel by train in order to arrive at the Finland Station in Petersburg the way Lenin did in 1917 when he returned from exile to lead the Bolshevik Revolution. However, to my chagrin the train came into
a new station farther from town, and all my planning was for nought. Still, it was an interesting trip.

For more information on travel in Russia, check out my electronic book "Budget Travel Tips for Russia."

The image aboveis of the Circum Baikal train, which is decidedly not high speed but provides some great views of the southern end of Lake Baikal.


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