Everbrite's Russia, Belarus and Ukraine Pages
Russia General Info
Russian Consulate Information:
A to F
G to J
K to South Africa
Spain to Z
Obtaining a Russian Visa
Money and Other Tips
Tidbits for Tourists:
A to I
K to Z
Rulers of Russia:
From the Beginning to the Time of Troubles
From the Romanovs to Revolution
From Soviet Times to the present
Russia Regional Information:
Moscow Metro Tour
Central Moscow Tour- in four parts with map:
Part 1 Stops 1 through 13. Marriott Royal/Hotel Budapest to Manezh Ploshchad
Part 2 Stops 14 though 22. Around Manezh Ploshchad
Part 3 Stops 23 though 44. Along Tverskaya Street to the area around Pushkin Square
Part 4 Stops 45 though 48. From Pushkinskaya Ploshchad to Upper St. Peter's Monastery and back
Travel in Russia planes, trains and automobiles
Trans-Siberian Trains general information to get you started on your journey
Trans-Siberian Stops information about common stops along the way
Notes about Chinese Consulates some informataion about Chinese consulates
Russian Language and Culture
Books, Tapes and other Resources
Traveling to / in Russia - Trains
General Train Information
For information about Russian trains in general, check out the Your Train - CIS Railway timetable. This is perhaps the easiest site for someone who doesn't know Cyrillic. Most of the city names match the train station names with a few exceptions. Yekaterinburg is Sverdlovsk, Nizhi Novgorod is Gorkii, Beijing is Pekin. No prices can be found on this website, but it does have some other advantages. It is easy to see the schedule for trains. It shows the stops, distances traveled, length of stopover, is updated regularly, etc.
The other major site is the official site of the Russian Railways. This site was recently redesigned in late 2009 and now includes more functional pages in English, which makes it easier to navigate. Schedules
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There are five basic types of accommodation:
See the website of the Man in Seat 61 for photos of these.
- platskartniy or плацкартный, а "rolling dorm" with no separate compartments. This is sometimes referred to as hard class or third class. There are 52-54 spaces, usually 36 berths running perpendicular to the corridor and 18 running parallel to the corridor. Half are lower bunks and half are upper. Few international trains offer this service and none to China or Finland.
- kupeyniy, or купейный, usually called kupé or купе and sometimes called second class. This is 32-40 spaces, usually 9 closed sleeping compartments each with 4 berths, half upper and half lower.
- 2К,2У,2Л - regular, without services kupé
- 2Э - economy class, with services
- spalniy vagon (спалный вагон) or SV, СВ; also called luks or люкс. This is a car with 16 to 18 spaces in two person compartments, generally all lower berths.
- 1Б - business or бизнес, with services
- 1Л - deluxe or люкс, without services
- myagkiy, мягкий (soft) or VIP class. This is a car with 8-12 spaces in two person compartments. These VIP cars differ from the business class and luxury cars in terms of their extra comfort and superior exclusive interior design.
- There are two types of VIP cars, one with four compartments and a bar, the other with six compartments. Each VIP compartment has two berths: a sofa bed (120cm) and a folding upper berth (90cm), as well as a shower, toilet, wardrobe, individually adjustable air conditioning, DVD player and a personal electronic lock.
- Each VIP compartment car is sold as a unit for one or two people. The price includes hot meals, a set of towels, bathrobe, slippers, travel set and fresh newspapers.
- 1А,1М,1Н - VIP
- sid, or сиденье or seat. Seats are available as:<
- 1С or business class car with service
- 2Е or economy class car with service
- 2В or regular car with service
- 2С or regular car without service
- 3О or ordinary car
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- On the Your Train website, for stations with a "YA" or in Russian a "Я" anywhere in the name the spelling will use "IA" on the English translation. i.e. Krasnoyarsk is Krasnoiarsk...Yaroslavl is Iaroslavl... You will get prompted in a pop-up and you can see for yourself. Also Moscow is Moskva, Saint Petersburg is Sankt-Peterburg, Warsaw is Warsazwa, Prague is Praga, Beijing is Pekin.
- On the Russian Railways website, for or stations with a "YA" or in Russian a "Я" anywhere in the name the spelling will use "JA" on the English translation. i.e. Krasnojarsk is Krasnoiarsk...Yaroslavl is Jaroslavl...
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Notes about schedules:
- Be careful of the schedule around Christmas and early in the year. It has been reported in the past that online database changes were not uploaded until February. Check the "circulation" days with the actual date and their "calendar" and see if it all matches. And lastly, check the boards at the railway station itself when you are there.
- Travel time between Moscow and Petersburg varies from 4 hours 42 minutes for the daytime train #164 which leaves Moscow at 18:30 and arrives in Petersburg at 23:12 to 9 hours and 12 minutes for the #8 train which leaves Moscow at 11:06 and arrives in Petersburg at 20:18.
In addition to several daytime trains, there are about a dozen trains that leave between 20:00 and 01:00 and arrive in Petersburg the next morning. Almost the identical schedule is true from Petersburg.
- Schedule Times
- Russia has daylight savings time, but this does not change train schedules.
- All times for trains within Russia are Moscow Time. All clocks in trains stations throughout Moscow are set at Moscow time.
- Traveling from Moscow, local time in:
- Kazan is Moscow time
- Yekaterinburg is Moscow time +2 hours
- Novosibirsk is Moscow time +4 hours
- Krasnoyarsk is Moscow time +4 hours
- Irkutsk is Moscow time +5 hours
- Ulan Ude is Moscow time +5 hours
- Naushki, the Russian Mongolian border town where the trans Mongolian train crosses, is Moscow time +5 hours
- Zabaikalsk, the Russian Chinese border town where the trans Manchurian train crosses, is Moscow time +6 hours
- All times for trains outside Russia are local time.
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Multiple trains will have the same number as the number defines a train form a specific station on a specific route. For example, this means that there are several trains called #1
- fast train ('skoriy poezd' or скорый ) - Train number from 1 to 160. Very comfortable and fast trains with minimum stops (only large stations). These trains tend to have more convenient arrival and/or departure hours (departure at night, arrival at the morning). Average speed is 70-90 km/h.
- fast train with special name ('firmenniy poezd' or фирменный) - All of the above services plus and additional level of service (cleaner cars, better trained attendants, meals, additional security services, other services for a fee). Examples of these trains are the 'Rossiya', connecting Moscow and Vladivostok, and the 'Krasnaya Strella' or 'Red Arrow', connecting Moscow and Petersburg. Average speed is 60 km/h. These are also referred to as branded trains and sometimes as private trains.
- passenger train ('passazhirskiy poezd') - Train number from 170 to 870. Looks like an intercity train with great number of additional stops. Average speed is 40-50 km/h.
- speed train ('skorostnoj poezd') - Train number from 161 to 169. Very comfortable trains with average speed 100 km/h. All cars equipped by video, bar, comfortable seats. Currently such trains operate between Moscow and Saint Petersburg and Helsinki and Saint Petersburg.
from Moscow to Petersburg departing from the Leningradskiy station
from Moscow to Vladivostok, The Rossiya, departing from the Yaroslaskiy station
from Moscow to Kyiv departing from the Kievskaya station
and so on...
Generally speaking, trains originating from Moscow have even numbers, while those returning to Moscow have odd numbers.
Train numbers also provide other information:
- Express trains (numbers 001-099)
- "Seasonal" express trains (100-139)
- "Normal" long distance trains (140-299)
- "Seasonal" long distance trains (300-499)
- Regional trains (numbers 600-699)
- Regional "express" trains served by EMU/DMU (numbers 800-899)
- Mail/luggage trains (numbers 900-999)
- Commuter trains (numbers 6000-6999)
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Branded or luxury trains, also known as firmenniy trains
Each train is decorated in a unique style reflected both in its exterior and in its interior design. And each has its unique name displayed on the side of the carriage or on the route indicator. Most trains are air conditioned and have electric heating and TVs. In first class many of these trains have shared shower compartments. Some also have Internet connections and cable television.
Attendants have obtained the special qualifications needed to work on the branded corporate trains and wear uniforms individually tailored to each employee. Staff are always available to offer passengers hot tea or coffee drinks, make the beds, provide all necessary information en route and hand out periodicals and safety belts to passengers. Those working on international routes have basic command of English, German or French languages.
Branded trains include cars offering superior comfort and service included in the fare. Additional services can include:
Russian Railways has continued to introduce new services on its branded trains, including DVDs/videos, music, computer games etc. Some branded trains also have a children's game room, an Internet compartment and meeting rooms, as well as compartments where passengers can take showers and iron their clothes etc.
- food (a menu of 12-14 items with 3-5 hot meals on offer)
- a set of bed linen and two towels
- publications (newspapers, magazines)
- a personal vanity bag (soap, tissues, etc.)
- additional security measures (trains are accompanied by security units)
Several branded trains include extra comfort VIP class carriages with 4 compartments per carriage, heated floors and separate showers and toilets. The fare includes:
- bed linen and vanity set
- hot drinks, hot and cold snacks, dessert.
Branded trains always have a restaurant car with menu including national dishes and set meals.
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- Train prices vary with the level of service. Trains can be passenger trains, which are the cheapest, or fast trains which make slightly fewer stops, or fast, firmeny trains which have a higher level of service. On the poezda.net site 'Pass' = slow ordinary passenger train 'Fast, firm' = 'Fast, firmeny train.' 'Firmeny' means 'top quality service' with modern coaches and a restaurant car.
- Within Russia it is possible to buy a ticket from point A to point C, hop off at point B and get a new ticket. It should be noted, however, that this is not commonly done and that attendants on the trains and at the train stations may not be familiar with the process. In addition, this does not save significant amounts of money, if any.
- Generally international trains do not have third class or platskartniy compartments. However, within Russia and the former CIS countries as well as on some trains to Ulan Bator, it is possible to travel platskartniy.
- The ticket prices change with the season and a variety of other variables.
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Some sites may indicate the schedules of trains and perhaps even their prices to purchase tickets. The Russian Railways site not only indicates berth or seat availability, but also shows the actual prices of tickets that are available within the next 45 days.
Currently (November 2009), the dates and amounts for seasonal adjustments to the prices can be viewed online here: Seasonal Price Changes. Note that the specific dates and percentages change each year. Generally speaking, the prices are higher immediately preceding holidays, lower on the actual holiday. The index can range from 45% of base (on May 9 and 10, 2009) to 120% of base July 17-August 31, 2009 and December 29-30, 2009.
Price increases have been made routinely each year. At the start of 2009, prices were increased 12% for most seats with the exception of some SV (Spalny Vagon) that were increased slightly more.
It is possible to use the Russian Railways website to determine actual prices, but only within 45 days of travel. Unfortunately, the English language pages do not have this feature. Below are instructions to permit the non Russian reader to navigate the Russian part of the Railways website.
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Checking Ticket Prices
- Start with this page: Расписание, стоимость билетов / Пассажирские перевозки.
- The first line in the box reads, "Станция отправления", meaning city of departure. Clicking the little magnifying glass to the far right will cause a small window to open with a cyrillic keyboard.
- Type in the first several letters of the city name using the cyrillic keyboard.
Moscow = Москва
Irkutsk = Иркутск
Saint Petersburg = Санкт-Петербург
Yekaterinburg = Свердловск
- Click the button labeled, "Найти", meaning "find" and a choice of cities will appear.
- Click the city you want and it will populate the box for the city of departure.
- Note that there will be several options for Moscow and Saint Petersburg because there are multiple train stations in these two cities. If you select the option for Moscow or Saint Petersburg that does not have anything additional, then you will get all trains departing or arriving rather than to a specific station.
- The next line on the main page reads, "Станция Назначеня" meaning "city of arrival".
- Follow the same procedure to populate the box for the city of arrival
- The next line on the main page reads, "Дата" meaning "date". Type in the date using the day of the month first, followed by a period and then the month. If you click the small box to the far right, a calender to open and you can click on the appropriate date. Please note that Russian calendars start with Monday as the first day of the week.
- The next line of the main page reads, "Время отправления" meaning "time of departure".
- Click the clock box to the far right and you can chose the hour of departure. The word "Закрыть" means "Close".
- There are two buttons below:
- "Расписание" meaning "Schedule" and
- "Наличие мест" meaning "Available Spaces"
- To get prices, you want to click on the button to the far right which reads, "Наличие мест".
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Sample of trains between Moscow and Saint Petersburg
Starting from the left:
- The first column, all the way to the left, Номпер поезда, is the train number. If you click this, a new window opens with the berth availability and prices.
- Маршрут поезда is the route of the train. The starting point isn't always the place you will start and the ending point isn't always your destination.
- Отправление is the date and time of departure.
- Прибытие is the date and time of arrival.
- Время в пути is the length of the journey.
- Наличие мест are the available spaces.
- С is сиденье, or seat
- П is плацкартный, or platskartniy
- К is купейный, or kupeyniy or kupé
- Л is люкс, or luks
- Click any letter that indicates а type of berth or seat or the number of the train you would like and a new window opens with price information for ALL available berths or seats.
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Starting from the left:
- Тип вагона (класс обслуживания) is the type of car (class of service), see below for more information
- Категория вагона is the category of the car, see below for more information
- Стоимость is the cost
- Номер вагона is the number of the car
- Верхние Купейные is upper berth in kupé
- Нижние Купейные is lower berth in kupé
- Верхние боковые is upper lateral or aisle berth in platskartniy
- Нижние боковые is lower lateral or aisle berth in platskartniy
- Другие is other or seat
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Buying tickets online
Tickets can be purchased online or at train stations beginning 45 days prior to the date of departure. Travel agencies in Russia can place orders beginning 60 days prior to departure.
Tickets for some routes cannot be purchased online. Tickets for the trans-siberian trains beginning in Russia and ending in Ulan Bator, Mongolia or Beijing, China cannot be purchased online on the rzd.ru website. Reportedly, these tickets are difficult to obtain at the train station even 45 days prior to departure.
Lots of companies say that they can arrange the purchase of tickets more than 60 days in advance of travel. Reality is that they can't. They are subject to rules set by the Russian railway, which limit their ability to make purchases in advance of 60 days and they are also required to impose a surcharge. This raises the fee that these companies charge to about 30% over the actual price of the ticket. Obviously some is their profit and some is a fee that is passed to them by the Russian Train Federation. Either way, if you want the lowest price, you need to buy the tickets yourself, either online on the rzd.ru website or at the train station.
For those who are unwilling to venture into buying the tickets online themselves yet, wanting to obtain the tickets in advance, the options are limited. Probably the most responsive company with the website easiest to navigate and the best prices is that belonging to Real Russia.
For those willing to take the time to navigate the maze of Russian officialdom in Cyrillic, the reward is not only tickets that are cheaper, but also the satisfaction that comes from doing something which deters many a hardy soul.
The rzd.ru website is primarily in Russian. The first step is to register. To do that, you start at this page: http://www.ticket.rzd.ru/wps/portal/register. When it asks for your identifying document, you want, иностранный документ, the option that means foreign document and the number you need to record is the number of your international passport.
A LP ThornTree user named miky 76 has described the process online: How to Register and book tickets on rzd.ru in translation. This offers a step by step explanation of the process. Denis, the Russian owner operator of the UU hostel also has instructions in a pdf that you can download from website: How to buy a ticket online on rzd.ru
There can be some questions that arise for those unfamiliar with Russian trains. At some point the site will ask you in which number wagon or train car you want to reserve a tickets. Which train car is generally not that important to some people, although others will avoid being in the car adjacent to the dining car. And then there is a question regarding which range of berths within the car should be considered. You can see all options for direct trains, all prices and even a scheme of the carriage with free seats marked. Then you can choose upper or lower beds or simply a range of numbers where you want to be.
If you want a specific seat number, say 61, you can enter "between 61 and 61" as the seat range and then you will get number 61 if it is available. For this purpose, there is certain numbers which people prefer to avoid. In kupé people often don't want 1-4 or 33-36 as they are at the ends near the samovar or toilet. In platskartniy they usually don't want the side berths 37-54 as they are shorter and more likely to be bumped. Also, berths no. 35 and 36 are a bit shorter, 33-36 are near the toilet.
The most common problem encountered on this site is the final steps requiring you to provide your credit card information. Many people find that their credit card is not accepted. There are two issues. One is that not all credit card companies allow you to make purchases on Russian internet sites. This is an issue of the bank that issued your credit card. The second is that the rzd.ru website requires that your VISA card be "Verified by VISA" and that your MasterCard have a security code. Even though the site itself is quite safe, some credit cards never seem to work on this website.
There is a bug with the website so that sometimes you need to log in twice. Normally after the first time, you remain logged in. Sometimes this isn't the case. Look for the link on the left side menu that says "купить билет". Sometimes it disappears. If this happens then go to "вход" (entry/login) in the top right corner and log in again in order for the link to appear. There are several reports that the site does not work well under Internet Explorer so try a different browser if that happens. And on occasion, the "next" or "continue" button simply doesn't work in that browser.
Sometimes it looks as though all compartments are male or female only. This is not the case. You CAN put a male and female into one compartment, as long as you check the "place in one compartment" box.
And finally, you do not always get an e-ticket. More often you receive a receipt with a barcode and fourteen (14) digit identifier. To obtain the tickets present this receipt with your passport and the credit card you used at a train station window with an @ sign or use one of the self-service kiosks at almost all train stations. If you lose the receipt, be sure that you have the 14 digit code as this can be used by itself with your passport. When using the kiosk, it is possible to choose English language instructions. Bottom line, it isn't all that complicated and it is much cheaper.
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Cheapest Tickets to Beijing
I did calculate the route through Manchuria traveling third class or platskartney for September and October 2011 when prices were at 89% of the Russian base, but note that prices are readjusted in May. Plus during the summer they can be at 130% of base.
I figure that this is probably the cheapest that one can travel from Moscow to Beijing if you need to pay for a Mongolian visa. Making more stops tends to add more to the cost and going through Mongolia will almost certainly add more. There are trains that are cheaper than the #2, but the trade off is that they take much longer.
Through Manchuria - not Mongolian visa necessary
#2 Train Moscow to Irkutsk
Platskartniy 5328.5 RUB or ~160 Euro
Overnight one night in Irkutsk in a hostel about 15 Euro
#322 Train Irkutsk to Zabaikalsk
Platskartney 1833.9 RUB or ~45 Euro
Bus crossing Zabaikalsk to Manzhouli about 7-8 Euro
Overnight one night in Manzhouli about 11-12 Euro
Train from Manzhouli to Beijing
Hard Class about 30-32 Euro
Approximate total: 256 Euro or 350 USD
Through Mongolia - Mongolian visa necessary for most travelers
Train #44 Moscow to Ulan Ude 3794.9 RUB or ~90 Euro (93+ hours)
Train #02 Moscow to Ulan Ude 5646.2 RUB or ~133 Euro (83+ hours)
Overnight one night in Ulan Ude in a hostel about 600 RUB or 15 Euro for a dorm room
Bus UU to Ulan Bator 1100-1200 RUB or ~26 Euro in 2011 (12 hours)
Overnight one night in Ulan Bator in a hostel about 5 Euro for a dorm room
Train Ulan Bator to Dzamyn Ude 15 600 MNT or ~10 Euro for a hard seat on the daily slow train, or 39 200 MNT 0r ~24 Euro for a soft sleeper on the fast train
Bus across the border 10 000 MNT plus an extra 1000 MNT at the border (total ~7 Euro)
Fee at the chinese side 5 yuan
Overnight bus from Erlian to Beijing 200 yuan or ~24 Euro
Mongolian visa obtained in advance in the UK 40 GBR or 47 Euro
Approximate Total: 224-291 Euro or 305-393 USD assuming that a Mongolia visa is needed.
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Explanation of Service and Cars
Starting from the left:
- Тип вагона (класс обслуживания) is the type of car (class of service)
- Люкс (1Б) is business class with services
- Люкс (1Л) is deluxe without services
- Люкс (1A) is VIP
- Люкс (1М)
- Купе (2Э) is kupé economy class car with services
- Купе (2У) is kupé car with services
- Купе (2Л) is kupé car without services, with air conditioning
- Кyпе (2К) is kupé car without services
- Плац (3Э) is platskartniy with air conditioning
- Плац (3П) is platskartniy
- Сид (1С) is a business class car with services and air conditioning
- Сид (2Е) is an economy class car with services and air conditioning
- Сид (2В) is a car with seats with services
- Сид (2С) is a car with seats without services
- О (3О) is ordinary open type car with seats
- Категория вагона is the category of the car
- У1 is a increased comfort with additional services
- N with food service
- Б is a business class car
- Э is an economy class car
- Ф is a firmenniy car
- БН is without assigned spaces
- И is space for handicapped
- МЖ У1 sale of compartments that are restricted to men or women only
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Reading a train ticket
- Train number
- Day and month of departure
- Departure time (always Moscow local time)
- Number and class of carriage:
- П - simple reserved seats car (platzkartney)
- К - soft seat car (myagkyi)
- Л - first class car (SV)
- Cost of platzkart (place in a carriage without compartments)
- Supplement for class of ticket above platzkart
- Number of people travelling on the ticket
- Type of passenger
- Bed number
- Passport number and name (entered when purchased in Russia)
- Total cost of the ticket
- Tax and service fee
- Date of arrival
- Arrival time (always Moscow local time)
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Everbrite's General information about Train Travel
You do not need to bring a sleeping bag or a sleep sack. Bedding and pillows are there for each berth. A package with clean sheets, a pillow case and a towel are provided. if the price of linens is not included in your ticket, then you will pay the attendant a few dollars for these items. On some of the lower number trains, you may be offered a sanitary packet that also includes toothbrush and tooth paste, soap, tissues and some other odds and ends.
There are two bathrooms, one at each end of each car. While the attendants try hard to keep them clean, the number of people sharing these two bathrooms in platskartny is pretty high (there are 54 berths), and thus this is sisyphean task. Bring your own soap, your own toilet paper and understand that the power outlet in the bathroom doesn't operate when the train is stopped and sometimes even when it is moving. The bathrooms are locked for 45-60 minutes while in the station, after leaving and before arriving in Moscow and Petersburg, plus for shorter periods when entering and departing other large cities. This is due to the sanitary districts since the bathrooms open directly onto the tracks.
Some of the newer trains do have shower compartments in the first class cars. It is one shower shared by two adjacent 2-person sleeping compartments. You can lock the door from both the outside and inside. Basically the room is the shower with a sink, a hand held shower head, a couple of mirrors and a drain in the floor. There is also a tray for toiletries and a cabinet for your clothing and towels. Ask the attendant if you can use these. There may be a small fee. Unless you are planning to spend several days aboard a train, I probably would not bother with this.
In second class, the berths to avoid are numbers 33 through 36 because they are adjacent to the bathroom. The other bathroom is near the attendant's compartment. In platskartny, odd numbers from 1 to 35 are lower bunks in the bays. These have the metal storage box under the berth. Even numbers from 2 to 36 are upper bunks in the bays. Odd numbers from 37 to 53 are lower bunks along the corridor, and even numbers from 38 to 54 are upper bunks along the corridor. 33 - 38 are closest to the toilets, 1 - 4 and 53 - 54 are closest to the provodnik/provodnitsa's compartment. If you are tall all the bunks will seem short, but the side bunks are probably the shortest. Avoid the bottom side bunk so people are not tripping over you all night. Generally taller people will find the upper bunks more comfortable.
Lots of travelers express concern about safety and security on the trains. Train travel is Russia is generally quite safe. The lower bunks in the 1st and 2nd class compartments can be raised. There is room to safely store luggage in the metal box underneath, provided it's not a gigantic suitcase or pack. There is also space above the doorway, but it's harder to get things up there and to safely secure them. The compartment doors can be locked from within, and there is a small latch that can be placed in the locked position from the inside allowing you or someone outside to open the door only an inch or two. In addition, if you want to leave at a station or to go to the dining car, the attendant can lock the door as well.
If you are uncomfortable with your fellow travelers, make that known to the attendant and s/he will try to accommodate a change of bunk. Offering to share your food and drink will increase the likelihood that your fellow travelers will look out for your belongings.
While there are dining cars, the food in the Russian dining cars is generally poor (at least in my personal experience), often not available and overall not worth the price. Some of the stops are quite long and most anything you might want will be available either from the groceries in the station or on the train platforms from vendors. Some things can be purchased from vendors who ride the trains: chips, drinks, snacks. Generally passengers tend to share their foodstuffs. You can get a glass, tea holder, tea bags or instant coffee, sugar and hot water from the train attendant for minimal cost. Bring along a mug, dried soups, coffee and cocoa for variety. I usually carry nuts, dried fruit, cheese (and for my meat-eating fellow travelers, salami as well.) Bread can usually be bought on the platforms, sometimes fruits as well. Don't forget to bring a sharp knife with bottle opener.
Be sure to bring bottled water and something to use for drinking. While there is hot water and drinking water available from the samovar on the train, the water in the bathroom is not potable. Plan to carry water to brush your teeth and wash out your toothbrush.
On long train rides, for entertainment I generally bring along a deck of cards and several travel games - usually Boggle and Yahtzee. Boggle is a word game and the time to finish rounds is short, plus it can easily be interrupted. Yahtzee is a dice game that doesn't require language skills and so can be played with fellow travelers whose English is not the best.
If you bring along cards, see if some Russian speaks enough English to explain a game they play called Preferens - it will help pass the time. Also I suggest carrying several books to read, usually trashy things you can pass around or leave with fellow travelers. Be sure to carry some paper, something to write with and a dictionary. I've been using my Collins Gem for years and while not the best dictionary - it is small and compact.
If you are planning to travel along the Trans-Siberian route, be sure to check out Everbrite's Trans-Siberian Page for useful information.
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