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Departure & Travel Logistics
Thanks for choosing to ride with Sokol Tours!
We are providing you with this informational reference to help you make the most out of your upcoming trip. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
1. Before your journey (what to bring from home)
Rule #1. If you do not speak the language of the country you are traveling through, make sure you carry a basic bilingual dictionary with you. When on the train, it is a common to dress down a bit. Most of your "roommates" will change into tracksuits or shorts and slippers.This is much more comfortable, and even in winter trains are quite warm, so you don't have to worry about freezing.
Currently, on all domestic Russian trains each passenger is allowed to carry for free 50kg (~110lb) and 35kg (~77lb) in all other classes. On International Trains, the limit is 35kg (~77lb) for all classes). Officially, the combined summary of length, height, and width of your bag or suitcases should not exceed 180cm (~70in). The luggage space is located under the lower bunks, and up top (upper shelves in 3rd class and closet type box in the 2nd and 1st classes). Optimal dimensions for your bags should be within: height 30-40cm (12-15in), depth 40-60cm (11-23in) and length 60-80cm (23-31in). When packing, use common sense. General idea is if you can't carry it comfortably yourself, probably it is a lot and you will be fighting with your neighbors for space. It is a good idea to split you luggage between several smaller bags/cases/backpacks. It will be easier to stock them or place in the luggage sections. Huge suitcases are hard to move or store. Any oversize items could be subject to extra charges, or required to be placed in the separate baggage wagon. Placing items in baggage wagon involves some paperwork and surcharges. Make sure to do this in advance if you have to.
3. Food and drink
The main thing to plan ahead for on the train will be your meals. Most trains will have a restaurant car. Additionally, vendors will prowl the wagons trying to sell you drinks, chips, peanuts, books, newspapers and who knows what else. Tea or coffee are almost always available, just ask the wagon attendant. On long-distance trains you will stop for 15-45 minutes at some stations, and passengers will disembark temporarily to stretch, smoke, and restock the food and drink supplies. Ready and waiting for this regular market, babushkas will line up at the stations to sell you boiled potatoes, eggs, sausage, etc. Also, don't be surprised if your travel mates lay out a full spread and invite you to join them. Of course you can eat in the restaurant car, but expect prices here to be higher than average, 10-15$ per person per meal, not including alcohol. Many people bring food that they prepare before leaving home: boiled eggs and potatoes, cheese, bread, sliced meats, even roast chickens, dried fish, and anything else you can think of that will keep relatively well unrefrigerated for a couple of days. When this runs out, you can stock up at stations along the way from people on the platforms. So what else might you want to bring with you? We strongly recommend bringing bottled water and juice or soda, and maybe some fruit, especially for long voyages. Oh, toilet paper is probably not a bad idea either. For long voyages where there will be plenty of occasions to socialize, it is not such a bad idea to bring something along that your cabin mates might enjoy - cognac, vodka, beer, candy, etc.
4. Your tickets:
Tickets for domestic and international travel are slightly different, but all contain the same information: train number, date and time of departure, wagon number, class and seat number. Please note that most times for Russian cities are given in Moscow time, but cities outside Russia are local time. Refer to your Sokol Tours itinerary for local times and if in doubt at any time, clarify with your Sokol Tours Consultant and/or with the cashier or information booth at the train station.
Tickets for Russian Domestic Travel
||Date of Arrival
||Date of Departure
||Time of Arrival (MOSCOW TIME)
||Time of Departure (MOSCOW TIME)
Tickets for International Travel
||Date of Departure
||Time of Departure*
*Note: If your ticket was purchased in Moscow, the time shown on your ticket will be Moscow Time, regardless of departure city. (If you will pick up your tickets in Moscow or they will be shipped to you, in nearly all cases they will have been purchased in Moscow.) If the tickets will be purchased locally (in another Russian city), in most cases they will show Local Time - with a few exceptions that we will try to bring to your attention. Tickets are purchased locally when you are entering from the east or when there are no longer tickets available for sale in Moscow for that route. For cities outside of Russia, Local Time is shown.
5. Ticket Deliveries
Because of the internal rules and regulations, train tickets in each country and sometimes regions of the same country can be purchased only locally. This begs the question of how to get your tickets to you. There are two approaches to this dilemma. We can hand them to you during your travel upon arrival to each destination (preferred). Or, you can pick them up yourself at our partner offices at each destination. Sometimes, if we are able to print all your tickets in the same city and if there is enough time, we can send them to your home by express mail.
6. The Station
You will be informed on your itinerary which station you will be departing from. Please note that in large cities there is usually more than one train station. Your ticket will indicate the following important information at the top: train number, date, departure time, and wagon number. Look for this same information as you enter the railway station. Look for the long-distance train timetable and not the local (commuter rail) schedule. This timetable will indicate train number, destination, scheduled departure time, actual departure time, and track number. At each track there will also be a sign with the train number, time of departure, and destination. In some cites, railway stations have underground or bridge system for passengers to get to the appropriate track. Be aware of arrival and departure delays or last minute track number changes. Although any delays or last minute changes are announced, they are generally only in local language. If you do not understand announcements or feel uncertain about you train #, track #, arrival or departure time, please address your concerns to the "Information" window. You may find that they also only speak local language, but just show them your ticket and they will point you in the right direction. You can also try asking other travelers in this manner. Often the "Information" is the only option at most small railway stations. When looking for your wagon, look for numbers that are on a white sign in the window near the door of each wagon. Don't be alarmed if train cars don't appear to be in order or skip a number. The wagon attendant will check your documents and might collect your ticket either as you board or a bit later, and keep it until you disembark. If you are disembarking mid-route, you should remind the attendant, as it could require waking you up in the middle of the night. Moscow has eight major train stations. All are served by the Moscow Metro and located near the center of the city. Most stations are connected by the metro's circle line. Taxis are readily available outside most stations. If you're on an international train, you'll go through customs when you cross the border, not at the station. Click here to see a listing of Moscow and Beijing stations, addresses and contact numbers.
7. Crossing borders
Just like at the airports, crossing borders on the train requires filing custom declaration. Make sure to list any items of value, and also any currency you have with you. After the declaration is stamped by the custom officer, be sure to save it. You will need to show them again to custom agents upon your departure. Failure to comply may result in confiscation of currency or valuables, removal from your train, missed flights, or a fine. Many of the other visitors you may speak with might point out several instances where this declaration is not necessary, but the rules change often, and frequently are not heeded at outlying border train stations.
Dogs are required to be placed in the baggage wagon. The owner must provide a cage and feeding. There are no official rules about smaller pets (cats, birds, small dogs...). You will have to negotiate the issue with the conductor, cabinmates and possible pay a surcharge. We do not recommend to carry any pets with you inside the regular passengers cabin for long distances.
9. Safely onboard trains
Many single travelers prefer 2nd or 3rd class as there are simply more people around. There are many rumors about things happening on trains - much of it is a thing of the past. However you should use common sense. On many routes, the wagon attendant will give you an additional lock for the cabin door (obviously this doesn't apply to 3rd class). Most Russian trains are patrolled by the militsia (police) regularly. Be aware that the train police is instructed to take off the train any passengers under alcohol/drug influence, or those who disturb other passengers. There is little reason to believe that train travel in Russia, Mongolia or China is any more or less dangerous than in Europe or America. Just use common sense and keep your valuables on your body.
Smoking is not allowed inside wagons or cabins. There is a designated area for smoking at the end of the each wagon. It is called "tambur" (in russian).
- BELORUSSKIY TRAIN STATION - Metro: "Belorusskaya"
Trains to Belarus, Poland, Germany, Smolensk
- KAZANSKY TRAIN STATION - Metro: "Komsomolskaya"
Trains to Central Asia and Urals, Rostov-na-Donu
- KIEVSKY TRAIN STATION - Metro: "Kievskaya"
Trains to Ukraine, Moldova, Hungary, Serbia, Greece
- KURSKY TRAIN STATION - Metro: "Kurskaya"
Trains to Sothern European Russia and Ukraine
- LENINGRADSKY TRAIN STATION - Metro: "Komsomolskaya"
Trains to St. Petersburg, Estonia, and Finland
- PAVELETSKIY TRAIN STATION - Metro: "Paveletskaya"
Trains to Voronezh, Volgograd
- RIZHSKY TRAIN STATION - Metro: "Rizhskaya"
Trains to Baltics
- SAVYOLOVSKY TRAIN STATION - Metro: "Savyelovskaya"
Trains to Kostroma, Vologda
- YAROSLAVSKY TRAIN STATION - Metro: "Komsomolskaya"
"Trans-Siberian" trains, and to China, Korea, Urals
- BEIJING MAIN (CENTRAL) TRAIN STATION (Mao Jia Wan Str. in Dong Cheng District)
Trains to Moscow, Pyongyang, Ulaanbaator, Harbin, Shanghai, etc.
- BEIJING WEST TRAIN STATION (Guanglian Lu, Fengtai District)
Trains to Vietnam, Tibet and Hong Kong, Kowloon, etc.
- BEIJING EAST TRAIN STATION (Baiziwan Lu, Chaoyang District)
Trains to Beijing-Baotou City of Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region.
- BEIJING NORTH TRAIN STATION (formerly known as Xizhimen Railway Station)
Trains Hebei Province and Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region.
- BEIJING SOUT TRAIN STATION (Yongdingmenwai Dajie, Chongwen District)
Mainly operates High-speed trains to Tianjin, Qingdao, Jinan, Shanghai, etc.
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