Russian Railways

Discussion in 'Science & Technology in Russia' started by Moscow Exile, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    A Moscow Times article on one of the results of the rapidly ongoing updating of Russian railways: Russia's First Double-Decker Train Departs to Adler.

    Such double-deckers, by the way, are not an uncommon sight in mainland Europe.

    As is their wont, though, those at MT have to add a little negative spin to the story, thus:

    "The trains' toilets can be accessed throughout the entire journey, a welcome departure from toilets in older trains where access is barred at stops in order to dump the facilities' contents on the tracks."

    A "welcome departure"?

    So where else does the writer of this article think the contents of a train toilet are flushed out during a journey?

    In any country in the world (well at least those in Europe through which I have travelled by train, and they are many) there are stern notices in train toilets warning passengers not to flush the toilets whilst the train is standing at a station.

    Notwithstanding such a warning in Russian train toilets, as a train is approaching a scheduled stop, just to make sure that this toilet regulation is obeyed, the guard in every carriage - and the guard is the lord/mistress of all he/she surveys in his/her domain - locks the toilet doors at each end of the corridor.

    Perhaps the above quoted MT line just reveals its writer's ignorance of railway travel, for if the journalist who wrote it is a US citizen, then in my experience he may well know very little about train journeys.

    I once remember when on a train journey from Stuttgart to Munich being asked by some US tourists who were my travelling companions: "How will we know when we have arrived at Munich?" and "How do we stop the train when we want to get off?"

    I doubt if many of MT's US-expat readers have ever travelled by train in Russia - or anywhere else for that matter.

    Early this last summer my family and I travelled along the same route along which this new double-decker service is scheduled to run. The train was state-of-the-art:

    [​IMG]

    was air conditioned throughout, had telephones, showers:

    [​IMG]

    a bar:

    [​IMG]

    and a restaurant.

    We had waitress service, my wife having considered that it would be less troublesome for our gang to eat in our sleeping/travelling compartment, so at mealtimes a stewardess:

    [​IMG]

    brought our food and drink there, and very tasty it was too.

    We didn't have a compartment with a toilet and shower, though I have travelled in one of these on the Moscow-St.Petersburg express, but the toilets on our train this summer were absolutely spotless.

    And of course, from the coal-fired samovar:

    [​IMG]

    adjacent to the guard's berth at one end of the corridor, there was hot water on hand around the clock in order to make glasses of Russian tea:

    [​IMG]

    Upper Volta with nuclear weapons?
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  2. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    On Amtrak trains you can go to the crapper whenever you wish.

    But the most important question is: Did it have WiFi?

    That said, the catering arrangements definitely appear to be superior to what you get on Amtrak.
  3. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Wi-Fi is already available on the Moscow-St.Pete super-express "Sapsan" and is due to appear in other services at the end of this year.

    Wi-Fi is scheduled to be installed in the Moscow metro next spring and also in trolley buses and buses, I believe.

    Bet they don't have Wi-Fi in Upper Volta.

    Here is the "Evil One" aboard "Sapsan", which also has a Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod route now.

    [​IMG]

    "Sapsan" awaiting departure at Leningradsky Vokzal, Moscow:

    [​IMG]



    Aber leider ist der Zug "Sapsan" in Deutschland hergestellt!

    :rolleyes:

    "Sapsan" has a top speed of 250kmh

    Built by Siemens, Germany, the Siemens ICE3 Valero is designed, however, to run at 380 kmh. They've changed the traction motors and the gearing for "Sapsan" so that it goes slower, but the train is really designed to go faster than it does. The reason Russian railways doesn't use the train past 250 kmh is because the tracks it runs on weren't built specifically for 300 kmh high speed trains such as exist in France, Germany, Japan, and China, so Russian Railways "only" runs it at 250 kmh.

    All aboard in Moscow!



    Greetings to those who must be obeyed:

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
  4. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    I should have added that the train which I described above and aboard which my family and I travelled to the Krasnodar region this year did, in fact, have use-anytime toilets, in that they were vacuum operated as on board aeroplanes. That means for every carriage there must be a waste tank that has to be periodically emptied.

    I only discovered this fact an hour or so after our journey to the south had started at Kazansky Vokzal, Moscow, when my 5-year-old daughter came scampering out of the toilet terrified at the noise she heard when she flushed the bowl during her first visit to the place.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  5. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Russia is at last saying goodbye to the "platzkart" carriages that I used to label as "cattle wagons".

    See: "Russia’s platscart wagon: bye-bye, baby!".

    Of course, the Moscow News journalist reporting the imminent demise of the platzkart communal carriage paints a negative picture such class of travel, without mentioning that it was much cheaper to travel "platzkart" than in a "coupé", namely a 6-berth sleeping compartment.

    I wonder if she's ever been on a British train full of football supporters?

    In the UK of my youth, there were three classes of railway carriage; now there is only 1st and 2nd class. I have never travelled by train first class in the UK: too expensive.

    Here are some more images of a platzkart carriage:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    and here are some pictures of coupés with which one can compare platzkart class:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I often travelled platzcart before I got wed and never had any problems. In fact, I often got acquainted with some interesting and friendly folk when travelling platzkart.

    When I travelled in a coupé before my becoming a family man, my travelling companions mostly slept all the time.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  6. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    Looks much more comfortable than sleeping while sitting on Amtrak trains, which I had to do a couple of times as I had no intention of paying for coach class.

    It's a totally regressive move, though not unexpected. In the next two decades Russian will move to the "modern" way of travel - aircraft for medium and long distances.
  7. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Well that's why the high speed train Sapsan route was introduced between the Northern capital and Moscow: as a viable alternative to flying between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Apparently, the Sapsan route is the only profitable one that Russian Railways operates.

    Whether rail routes need be profitable in order to be operable is another question though. I, for one, believe that the profitability of a route is not of prime consideration in operating it: the socio-economic worth of maintaining an "unprofitable" route has to be factored in as well - either that or else everybody buys a car or stays put in his village.

    I know plenty who regularly travel to St. Pete on business and most of them use Sapsan. The ones who still fly there only do so because their place of business is not in the city centre and situated quite close to the airport. The actual travel time between the cities by aeroplane or train is about the same when you take into account getting to the respective airports and the traffic jams that one is almost certain to have to endure. Sapsan takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes to cover the 400 mile route between terminus stations situated in the very centres of the two cities: Leningradsky Vokzal on Komsomolskaya Ploshchad in Moscow:

    [​IMG]

    and Moskovsky Vokzal on Nevsky Prospekt:

    [​IMG]

    Since July of 2012, the cost of a Sapsan ticket now depends on how full the train is on the date when one books to travel (on average, 84% of Sapsan carriage seats have bums on them) and on the date of the ticket sale. This flexible tariff system leads to a change in actual ticket price that ranges from 0.8 to 1.2 times the base price of the ticket.

    At present, the average cost of "Sapsan" train tickets are as shown below :

    Business Class
    Moscow - Saint Petersburg: 4198 - 6507 rubles (USD 137 - 213)
    Saint Petersburg - Moscow: 4198 - 6507 rubles (USD 137 - 213)

    Economy Class
    Moscow - Saint Petersburg: 2323 - 3483 rubles (USD 76 - 114)
    Saint Petersburg - Moscow: 2323 - 3483 rubles (USD 76 - 114)


    Sapsan now also operates between Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod with the same flexible pricing system.

    "Sapsan"means "Pergrine Falcon", by the way:

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2013
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  8. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    $137 for SPB-Moscow business class? That's amazing. I'll have to do that route one day.

    (Well, I already did, but it was on the slower overnight trains years back).
  9. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    For the benefit of those non-native speakers of English who may be reading this thread and who are only accustomed to using North American English vernacular, in the expression that I used above, namely "84% of Sapsan carriage seats have bums on them", the "bums" in question are not homeless vagrants and idlers but the buttocks of passengers, the latter meaning of "bum" being for more common amongst speakers of non-American English, who use that word "bum" as do Russian speakers the word "попо".

    :)
  10. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Further to Russian Railways ticket pricing policy, I have just noticed this article from today's Komsomolskaya Pravda: "В купе - за полцены!" (Coupé [railway compartment] for half-price!)

    The article reads:

    On November 18 tickets go on sale for trains that run from January 14, 2014. Those who are already planning a trip in the new year can buy railway compartment tickets at half-price.
    Savings of up to 50 % are being offered to passengers who purchase tickets between 45 and 31 days before the departure of their train. This Federal Passenger Company pricing policy, known as "Plan ahead", covers domestic train journeys over the period lasting from 1 January until 24 April 2014. If you accept this offer, then a compartment ticket will cost almost the same as one for travelling platzkart

    In addition, if you buy a return ticket for compartment travel, you can also get a 10 percent discount. This special rate will be valid all year. Moreover, in order to make use of this offer, it is not necessary to book in advance.

    It should be recalled that Russian Railways recently decided to freeze basic rates in 2014 for four- and luxury two-berth compartments, so that they remain at the same price as in 2013. As regards platzkart tickets, their fares are regulated by the state; we shall find out at the end of December whether they become more expensive next year.

    In previous postings, I forgot to mention the luxury 2-berth compartments. I travelled in these with my wife - before our children began to arrive. Some super deluxe 2 berth compartments even have their own toilet and shower. I travelled in one of these once between Tallin and St. Pete.

    Here are some pictures of luxury "coupés":

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    and here are some pictures of super deluxe compartments, so-called VIP coupés, in "VIP" carriages that are called in Russian "Мягкий вагон VIP" (literally "soft carriage VIP"):

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Upper Volta with nuclear capability?
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2013
  11. owenpolley

    owenpolley Gubernial Secretary (12th class)

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    I travelled on the Sapsan between Nizhny and Moscow, just over a year ago. The service was excellent, particularly in comparison to train travel in the UK. There was a TV screen in the compartment with personalised ports for earphones, like you get on aeroplanes. The ticket even included a packed lunch.

    That sleeper in the first post looks incredible; particularly the shower. Trying to wash, using a tiny trickle of water, while you desperately attempt to stop some of your possessions from falling down a toilet used by the whole carriage, is probably character forming, but it is not fun.
  12. Hero of Crappy Town

    Hero of Crappy Town Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    Or takes a bus?

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