Russian Railways (RZD) operates a number of overnight routes. The services are operated using trains of different ages and qualities, with the most luxurious trains being used on prestigious routes such as Moscow - Paris and Moscow - Nice.
Nice - Milan - Vienna - Moscow (Russian Railways Train)
An epic train journey has recently been re-created by Russian Railways in an attempt to link the Russian capital, Moscow, wih the South of France at Nice. The route is designed (perhaps unsurprisingly) for Russians wanting to catch a bit of sun, and hopes to revive some of the glamour of long distance train journeys.
The two day journey doesn't come cheap, with prices starting at over €300, and going as high as €1200. It isn't your average journey however, with comfortable rooms and furnishings. Each compartment has two berths, which can be shared or sole occupancy. Breakfast is included in ticket prices, and is served in the dining car. There are a number of different (tasty) options to choose from.
The rooms, while comfortable, can be a bit on the warm side, and unfortunately the windows don't open, preventing passengers from making the most of air conditioning au naturale! They also lack power sockets, so you will need to bring plenty of old fashioned reading material, or be prepared to make the most of the wide range of views on offer.
Passports and visas are checked at the Poland/Belarus border. At the border, the wheel gauge is changed, but passengers stay onboard for this process. Passengers who aren't Russian will require a transit visa to travel through Belarus. This can be obtained from the Belarussian Embassy. You will be removed from the train if you do not have an appropriate visa.
Want more information? Shaun Walker has written a good in-depth account of his journey on the Nice to Moscow train for the Independent.
RZD Sleeper Trains
There are generally three accommodation options for your journey: Luxury, First and Second Class. Towels and soap is provided for every passenger, as well as bed linens and pillows. During the day, beds are stowed away, and replaced by seats.
Luxury cabins can accommodate two passengers, with beds arranged in bunk-bed style (one above the other). The lower bed may be extended to form a double bed. Some single berth cabins are also available. Each compartment has its own toilet facilities, as well as a shower, chair, television and bar.
First Class compartments can accommodate two passengers, with beds arranged in bunk-bed style (one above the other). Some single berth cabins are also available. Each compartment also has a reclining chair and its own wash-basin.
Second Class compartments can accommodate up to three passengers, with two of the beds arranged in bunk-bed style (one above the other). Each comparment also has a reclining chair and its own wash-basin.
If you are travelling in First or Second Class, there is an upper weight limit for luggage of 36kg, although this doesn't includ hand luggage. First Class passengers are permitted to bring up to 50kg of luggage. Bear in mind however, that your luggage will have to be stored in your cabin, and space may be limited.
Food & Drink
On most routes, a restaurant car is attached to the train. The nationality of the carriage varies depending on the country being crossed. All restaurant cars serve complete meals or snacks, as well as drinks. Some trains also have a samovar in the carriage, which provides free hot water (useful for noodles, tea etc).
Travelling with Pets
Pets may travel with passengers on this service free of charge, provided that the entire compartment is booked by the passenger/group. There is a limit of two dogs per passenger/cabin, and dogs should be muzzled and leashed. Each dog may incur an additional luggage fee.
There is only one service in each direction between Moscow and Nice each week. From Nice, the train leaves on Sunday nights, arriving 50hrs later on Tuesday evening. In the opposite direction, from Moscow to Nice, the train leaves on Thursday afternoons, arriving 50hrs later on Saturday afternoon.
Tickets can be bought for shared or sole occupancy. When a single passenger buys a whole compartment, two children can travel for free in Business class. When 2 adult (family) tickets are bought to occupy a compartment, one child may travel for free in Business class.
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- Ticket prices are per person, each way.
- Child tickets are valid for under 12s.
- Youth tickets are valid for 12-26 year olds.
- Senior tickets are valid for over 60s.
Train tickets can be bought from the Russian Railways Tour Office, in Berlin:
Russian Railways Tour
Passengers require visas for Belarus and Russia. For passengers from the UK, transit visas for Belarus can be bought from the embassy in London for £50. Russian visas cost around £75, and can be bought from various visa agencies.