Trans-Siberian Railway (Rossiya)
The Trans-Siberian Railway consists of a number of different service options, the fastest of which is the Rossiya service. This service is considered to be one of the best Russian rail services, as a result of its punctuality, staff service and level of upkeep.
The Rossiya service runs every other day, with a choice of accommodation options and a restaurant carriage.
There are a number of different accommodation options for your Trans-Siberian experience:
Spalny Wagon / SV (First Class):
1st Class accommdation is relatively comfortable, with more space than 2nd Class accommodation. Once you get past the distinctly Russian decoration, you will be right at home in your cosy compartment. Each compartment has two beds, both at a lower level (no bunks). The Spalny Wagon tends to be the cleanest and quietest. Most of the other travellers in this class are wealthy or foreigners; you are unlikely to run into groups of backpackers (maybe a good or bad thing).
1st Class passengers benefit from showers in each carriage, which tend to be in slightly better condition than the 2nd class shower carriage. In some cases, electrical sockets can be found in your cabin (but this is not guaranteed).
Buying 1st Class tickets in Summer can be difficult, as most of the tickets are reserved for travel agencies and the Chinese Embassy. If you want to travel First Class, we suggest buying your ticket from a specialist travel agent such as Real Russia.
Kupé (Second Class):
Kupé is the cheapest accommodation option (for this particular journey). There are around eight Kupé compartments in each carriage, with four sleeping spaces in each compartment, arranged in sets of two bunks. Each compartment also has a small table in between the lower bunks, below the window. All the compartments feature a lock for security, as well as space for luggage. If possible, book a lower bunk, as you have a more secure space for your luggage.
You should generally speaking receive bedding for your compartment from the carriage attendant after you board the train. Compartments are generally warm, but be prepared.
Unless you are travelling with three other friends, you will be sharing your Kupé compartment with other travellers, which may or may not be to your liking. Compartments are not single sex, so lone women travellers could end up in a compartment with three men. If you are after a private compartment, you are best off finding a friend and travelling 1st Class in the Spalny Wagon.
Luggage & Facilities
There are no set limits on the amount of luggage passengers can take on-board. Bear in mind however, that you have to store your luggage within the confines of your cabin, and if you are sharing with other people there isn't that much room. We wouldn't recommend taking more than one piece of medium sized luggage and one piece of hand luggage.
Food & Drink
When purchasing your ticket, you may be given the option to include 'services'. For a very reasonable additional fee (around £30 2nd class, £50 1st class) passengers may have all their meals included served in the buffet car or in their compartment. If you want a more adventurous option, passengers can wait for the major station stops to buy food from the locals waiting on the platform edge (at your own risk!). If you were planning ahead, you could buy enough food to last the journey in Moscow, but you probably won't want to have to carry around 20 Pot Noodles!
There is also a restaurant car on-board the train (generally in the middle), with meals costing around $7. Generally speaking, there is a greater variety/quantity of food available earlier into the journey.
Each carriage has a samovar, which is effectively a hot water heater. Most travellers tend to use this as their main cooking utensil, purchasing basic food before getting on board the train, or at station stops.
There is a conductor in each carriage to make sure all passengers are comfortable, and that the train is as secure as possible. The conductor is able to sell tea bags for the tea-boiler, as well as snacks for the journey.
Bathrooms & Toilets
Every carriage has a communal toilet and bathroom. While they do get cleaned fairly regularly, you are almost certainly going to come across some unpleasant conditions once or twice on your journey, so you may want to bring some cleaning materials with you to make the journey that little bit more pleasant! There may also be showers on your service, in a separate carriage, which cost money if you want to use them (around $1 for 10mins). You will want/need to bring your own towel, and aim to shower just before dinner to benefit from vaguely warm water.