Moscow to St Petersburg train
With a striking dark red and golden yellow livery, the iconic Red Arrow is Russia’s oldest and most famous train, and it has quite a history. The train was built in 1931 to shuttle the communist elite of Soviet Russia between Leningrad and Moscow, and still operates the same route to this day (albeit with passengers, not communist leaders).
Known as ‘Krasnaya Strela’ in Russian, the train travels 400 miles overnight and takes a total of eight hours and is a popular mode of transport used by both Russians and tourists. Offering guests comfortable sleeper compartments, modern amenities, access to an elegant restaurant car and an altogether premium travel experience, not to mention being able to arrive feeling refreshed, it’s easily the best way to travel between Russia’s capital and imperial St Petersburg.
Prices from: £51
Departing from: Moscow, St Petersburg
Journey length: 1 night
Moscow to St Petersburg train route
The Red Arrow train links Russia’s two biggest cities, running a schedule every day between Moscow Leningradsky and St Petersburg Moscovsky. Covering 400 miles, the journey takes a total of eight hours, travelling overnight and allowing passengers to arrive in their destination in the early morning feeling relaxed and refreshed. The train leaves Moscow at 23:45, arriving in St Petersburg the next day at 7:55, with the exact same timings applicable for the return journey. A maximum speed of 160km is implemented for the journey and there are no stops.
Moscow to St Petersburg train
Stepping onto the Red Arrow is like stepping back in time, and everything from its red velvet seating and its carpets to its white tablecloths and curtains conjures up images of a bygone time. The majority of the train is formed of sleeper accommodation, VIP carriages, first-class carriages and second-class carriages, but there is also an elegant restaurant car where passengers can purchase food and mingle. Despite nearly being 100 years old, the train is kitted out with modern amenities such as air-conditioning, wi-fi and plug sockets – and has been refurbished many times over the years.
Cabins on the Moscow to St Petersburg train
On the Red Arrow guests are able to choose from ‘VIP’ first-class, standard first-class or second-class accommodation, all first-class compartments are two berth and second-class being four berths (two up and two down), and clean bedlinen is all included. The cabins are all well configured with hanging space, a small table and comfortable seating which turns into beds, and interiors echo the train’s livery with a red, cream and gold colour scheme.
A first-class ticket includes magazines, a vanity kit, plug sockets and a hot meal on board, while a second-class ticket has a lunch box instead of hot meal. Passengers with a VIP ticket of course have the most luxurious experience on the Red Arrow, and along with all the amenities of standard first-class have access to wi-fi (when available), a flat-screen TV with DVD player, and a private en-suite with shower. For passengers not in VIP and with private bathrooms, two shared toilets and washrooms are available in each carriage, and there is one cabin available for disabled passengers and their travel companions.
Food and drink
As the train departs so late at night and arrives early morning, there isn’t much time to eat on board – but food and drink is still available. All guests regardless of ticket get some food included in their fare; VIP and standard first class getting a hot meal and second-class getting a picnic-style lunch box with the likes of yoghurt, a roll, tea and water included. Allowing guests to see more of this grand and historical train, the Red Arrow also has a separate restaurant car, serving a set menu of local Russian dishes, hot meals and beverages (both soft and alcoholic). Like most Russian trains hot water is freely available at all times, so feel free to pack your suitcase with tea, noodles and instant soups.
As the Red Arrow isn’t the quickest or most efficient way to travel between the cities, the train is mostly used by tourist and travellers. Everyone and anyone use the train, from retired couples in VIP to small families in four-berth compartments.
Depending on ticket (tickets should be booked through a travel agency), the train fare includes accommodation, amenities such as bedlinen, towels and a vanity set and some sort of food – be it a hot meal or lunch box.
Pros and cons
The Red Arrow is perfect for travellers, allowing passengers to arrive in a new city refreshed from a good night’s sleep. Food, drinks, wi-fi and comfortable sleeping quarters are all available, and the train combines an old-world feel with modern amenities.