What Is a Trans-Siberian Train Really Like?
A common question asked by those booking our Trans-Siberian tours is “what are the trains really like?” Obviously this is a very valid and important questions considering between 6 and 7 days of a Trans-Siberian rail holiday will be spent on the train and that the train is usually the single most important reason why the trip is being taken in the first place.
The Basics - Trans-Siberian Carriage Layout
Common to all trains is the layout of the carriage. The bulk of the carriage is divided into cabins with lockable doors with an isle running the full length of the carriage making it possible to walk all the way from one end of the train to the other. Each carriage also have two toilets at either end of the carriage with one of these being designed to be more of a washroom as well where you can throw some water about to have a proper wash. Each carriage will also have a samovar located opposite the cabin of the conductors. This provides a constant supply of boiled and boiling water which is invaluable for those coffee and tea breaks s well as for the inevitable pot noodle that is a staple diet along the Trans-Siberian. Lastly, at the end of each carriage is an area by the doors where it is possible to smoke on most trains.
All About Your Cabin
Cabin layouts are also very similar across all trains. The biggest difference between cabins is that of first or second class. Second class cabins are 4 berth with 2 upper and two lower beds. First class cabins are 2 berth and on Russian trains are usually 2 lower berths although occasionally there is one upper and one lower berth. Decor varies from the functional to the kitsch. Each cabin, first or second class, will have a small table underneath the window and luggage storage areas under the lower berths (which lift up) and also above the door. The doors themselves are lockable from both the inside and outside providing a safe and secure environment. There is one large window which has both a blind and curtains. The cabin is well lit with both central lights and reading lights. There is also a knob to turn down the onboard radio. Altogether a comfortable set up that quickly becomes a home on your journey.
Trans-Siberian Train Dining Cars
The other spot on the train you are likely to spend a good deal of time is the dining car. The dining cars have been contracted out across the rail network and it seems these days that no two are alike from both a decor and food point of view. Some will have restrictive opening times, others will be happy to let you stay there all day although all are likely to require you to buy at least drinks. Food varies enormously but is usually quite palatable and reasonably priced on most trains. Although some dining cars can be like ghost towns others are the social hub of the train and some of our best Trans-Siberian memories involve time spent in the dining cars.
Want to See What a Trans-Siberian Train Is Really Like?
Russian railways have made a superb interactive display for the premier Rossiya train that runs the route from Moscow to Vladivostok. You can access that by clicking here. this is, of course, second only to actually taking the trip yourself!
Article originally posted by Phil Stanley: 24th January 2014