► Types of Train Tickets
Russian trains can be subdivided into three main categories: very expensive and very comfortable, medium priced and still quite comfortable, and then cheap and not so comfortable. What does this all mean? Well, the thing you should remember is that Russia is an unpredictable country and this little fact also rings true for Russian trains and the Russian railway system. Usually the most expensive and thus the most comfortable trains run only the "hot" distances - that is between big cities. Of course there are many other cheaper train options as well, but these tend to run longer distances and not the frequently-traveled routes. All these different trains and different prices can be confusing so we suggest looking at it all in the following way: Whenever you decide to travel by train there are always a few options regarding the comfort of the train and its price, so you always have an opportunity to choose what train is best for you and your particular destination.
There are 4 different types of wagons in most Russian trains. First is the most comfortable and expensive option: the SV ticket. This is the high class compartment for only two people and contains two lower couches that convert into beds and a table next to the window. Also sometimes on some trains which run a long journey there are showers in those SV compartments that also adds some comfort to your journey. If you would like to travel by yourself there is a possibility to buy two tickets for the couches at the same compartment. So this could be almost VIP traveling.
The next option is a less expensive class that is organized in compartments, each of which contain two lower and two upper berths. These are called coupes in Russian. Just like an SV, coupes have a door which locks from the inside, ensuring privacy.
The next class is cheaper still and is called Platzkart in Russian. This means that the entire wagon is open and there are no closed compartments or curtains. There are two lower and two upper berths, a small and narrow corridor and another two berths that are located on the opposite side near the window. So instead of a compartment there are six berths and no doors, thus there is no possibility to lock anything or for people to have any privacy. Platzcart tickets are convenient tickets if you have a short journey or if you are not interested in comfort but want to save money. In some cases, traveling by Platzkart is more convenient for a woman taking a journey by herself. In this case, the woman avoids the possibility of getting stuck in a compartment with 3 strangers. If you travel to the very south of Russia during the mid-summer months, this might be a more comfortable option because the wagons tend to get very humid and stuffy and Platzcart cabins have better ventilation and therefore may be cooler.
The last option for train tickets are just seats. These are, simply put, similar to the kind of seats you will find in airplanes, and they are just as comfortable too. Most long distance trains do not have seats. You can travel in a wagon with seats only for a short distance, afterwards it can become very uncomfortable but this is the cheapest option. Between Moscow and St. Petersburg there are a few trains which have wagons with seats with different levels of comfort. Some of these trains are expensive and run for about six hours, some travel about ten, but the tickets are the cheapest. So as you can see there is a big variety of traveling options: when traveling by train you just have to decide what is most convenient for you.