► Buying Train Tickets
In Russia it is impossible to reserve train tickets - you must purchase your ticket to secure it. The tickets go on sale 45 days before the actual train departure. There are also no open tickets for Russian trains - you will have to buy a ticket for a particular train on a certain date. In order to purchase tickets, you have to present your passport - no other documents are acceptable. Sometimes it is possible to purchase a ticket by only showing a passport copy or even just giving your passport number, however you must be aware that documents are checked when boarding the train and there will be trouble if your documents do not match what is written on the ticket. There is no double pricing system for foreigners as there frequently is with theater tickets, so tickets are the same price whether you are Russian or not.
Getting your ticket is quite easy but there are a few things you should know. First, you have to remember to purchase the tickets in advance, especially to the popular destinations such as Southern Russia, Central Russia and the Trans-Siberian route. On the most popular routes like Moscow to St. Petersburg there are lots of trains, so it is almost always possible to get a ticket even on the same day as your desired departure date. Summer is, of course, the peak season for traveling. This also applies to late spring and early autumn. If you plan on traveling during these periods, it is important to book your tickets in advance, at least a few weeks but even better, over 1 month ahead of your desired departure date. Moreover, if you want to get the cheapest ticket possible then book even earlier, because prices tend to increase when there is more demand for tickets. In June, for example, it is hard to get tickets in Moscow a week before you desired departure date. Your only option might be the most expensive ticket in the most extravagant VIP train.
You can buy tickets at the railway stations and in special ticket offices as well as from travel agencies and some Internet ticket offices. If you choose a travel agency they will save you some time and make the process of getting the tickets very smooth for you, but at the same time they will charge an extra service fee for every purchased ticket. Usually the fee is not high, but the service is very good - it really beats standing in line at the ticket office for up to 3 hours.
If you do want to wait in line and get a ticket the true Russian way, it is strongly advised to note down the details of the journey/s you are interested in - even those with the sturdiest memories can be intimidated by train-station ticket sellers (who are, incidentally, usually very efficient). Make sure you are clear on your destination, dates of travel, time, and it also helps to know the train number. These details are usually listed in the ticket hall of stations. And don't forget to take your passport.
Lost or damaged tickets cannot be reissued, so be careful once you receive your ticket and keep it in a safe place. And remember you can take up to 36 kg of luggage with you loading the train.