Sapsan is a high-speed train cruising along St. Petersburg – Moscow and St. Petersburg – Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod routes. A typical European train, in its Russian version it possesses some nuances you’d better keep in mind. We’ll tell you about pricing policy, entertainments onboard, transportation of animals, classes of service and the specifics of seats.
Sapsan serves two routes:
— Moscow – St. Petersburg;
— Moscow – St. Petersburg – Nizhny Novgorod.
Sapsan departs (and arrives at) in Moscow from:
• The Leningrasky vokzal railway station (bound for St. Petersburg)
• The Kurskiy vokzal railway station (bound for Nizhny Novgorod)
Sapsan departs from (and arrives at) in St. Petersburg from:
• The Moskovsky vokzal railway station (85, Nevsky avenue, Ploschad Vosstaniya subway station).
Moscow. The Leningrasky vokzal railway station
Travel time between Moscow and St. Petersburg on Sapsan is 3.5 – 4 hours. That’s normally what you spend if you would fly by plane.
In 2019, there are 15 Sapsan daily flights in each direction starting at 05.45 till 21.00. There are two departures every two hours throughout a day with a 10 minute interval between them. Passengers of the latest flight cannot catch subway in St. Petersburg and have to hail taxi.
Sapsan’s maximal speed is 250 km/h, but the train reaches this speed only on some stretches. The average speed is just 160-170 km/h.
Numbers of coaches are in ascending order:
— from Sapsan’s head car for flights from Moscow to St. Petersburg;
— from Sapsan’s tail for flights from St. Petersburg to Moscow.
There are ongoing discussions about what’s a more convenient way to travel between these two cities. Generally speaking, it’s up to you, the both options are of similar prices and travel times (otherwise, there would have been no discussions). But concrete circumstances can make one option more attractive than the other, for example, the concrete location in a city you start from or you arrive in.
To sum up, Sapsan «pros» are:
— the train takes you directly from a city center to a city center;
— light baggage X-ray inspection, no any put off / put on clothes like at an airport;
— no delays or cancelled flights because of bad weather.
— a 4-hour journey in a seat you may not like (some details are further down the post);
— noisy or too talkative fellow passengers;
— smoking is strictly prohibited;
— prices can be sometimes considerably higher than for planes.
Sapsan is managed by the Directorate for High Speed Transportation, a department of the Russian Railways company (RZD).
Contact: call center +7 800 775 00 00 or 8 800 775 00 00 (free).
It’s recommended to arrive for boarding 20-30 minutes before departure to get through inspection procedures without hurrying.
When boarding you must present your passport or any identification document which you used to purchase a ticket. If you purchased the ticket online, then demonstrate the passport (ID) only.
You must also have legal documents for your children.
Of those who are not passengers, only people accompanying children, disabled people and seniors are allowed to enter a coach to help with baggage and accommodation.
Regarding the number of coaches in a train, there are two types of Sapsan:
• of 10 coaches;
• of 20 coaches.
All the coaches in a 10-coach section are interconnected by a walk-through. A double Sapsan of 20 coaches has no a walk-through between the two 10-coaches sections.
Seats are laid out just like they are in a plane, by two rows with two seats in a row. But unlike a plane, part of seats is located the other way round.
Another distinction from a typical plane layout is that each coach, except the First class, has a face-to-face table for four in the middle.
All coach layouts can be found here.
Tip: We suggest you book seats on the face-to-face table when you’re travelling with friends, families or colleagues. If not, you’re playing Russian roulette as you cannot know what kind of person will be across from you. Don’t forget that the typical travel time is about four hours, so spending this time with a family with little noisy kids or someone who doesn’t bother to follow eating etiquette will hardly bring you joy and pleasure.
Another important point here is that stretching your legs when seating at the table is impossible without getting your front fellow traveler bothered.
Choosing seats on a coach is being made when booking. So, choose carefully so that not to seat in contrary to the train’s direction or get stuck at the table with a company of three youths heavily drinking vodka.
All coaches are equipped with luggage room and clothes hangers.
There are swaddle tables in toilets of coaches 6 and 16 (in a double Sapsan).
Two big panels in a coach demonstrate the current speed of Sapsan train, air temperature outside and point of route you’re passing by.
Power sockets are only available in Economy+, Business (one socket for two seats) and First class coaches. You can find them in Economy too, but there are only a couple of them for the whole car.
Every seat has a reading light, a steward call button and a drop-down table.
There is Wi-Fi on Sapsan, but it is reported to work badly, even in Business class. Our own trip in Economy class proved it. You’d better rely on mobile Internet only, whose connection may also disappear from time to time.
Important: seats on Sapsan don’t recline in the way you may have accustomed to see it, not like in an airplane. They transform in another way: the back moves backward a bit, the seat moves forward a bit, so your body feels a bit more relaxed. Look how it’s done in the video below:
Sapsan has a dining car, and you can buy tickets for this car (details below). There are also trolley sales of food, snacks and drinks during a flight. A special service lets you have a cup of coffee delivered to your seat.
Important: you can bring your own food and drinks onboard of Sapsan or any other Russian train.
Service And Classes On Sapsan train
Sapsan offers seven classes of service and price (from the cheapest on to the most expensive):
— Dining car (a seat with the included food worth as much as 2,000 rubles);
— First class;
— Conference compartment.
Classes are ranged on the base of the common comfort, price and set of services.
Paid services, which are not included in fare and available for passengers of any class for extra pay:
— booking tours and excursions;
— booking tickets;
— booking taxi;
— mobile bar;
— mini office (to get something copied, printed, send emails etc.)
Free services for each class on Sapsan (included in fare)
A restaurant car class: meal for the sum of 2,000 rubles, entertainment media center, shoe brush machine.
Standard class: audio, video, in-flight entertainment system (movies in English available).
Economy+ class: all the services of Standard class plus light meal (you can choose it before trip when booking), shoe brush machine, access to (bad) Wi Fi, phone recharge.
Business class: all the services of Economy+ class plus kids’ travel set, unlimited drinks, press, travelling rug, pillow, and access to VIP-room at railway stations in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tver.
First class: all the services of Business plus a comfortable cradle sleeper.
As of July 1, 2018, a new class was introduced – Basic, without any extra services. Fare starts at 1906 rubles one way.
Conference compartment is space in the First class car just behind a driver’s cabin which can accommodate up to four persons. There is a table here, monitors and a leather sofa, in other words, it looks like a small office. The compartment is purchased as a whole no matter how many persons travel. Service is premium here with food, travel sets, press included in the fare.
Business and First classes offer fewer seats which means wider seats, more leg and elbow room, less fellow travelers, i. e. a lesser risk of being accompanied by a loud family with little kids.
We advise you look at Business and First classes too when booking as the difference with the cheaper classes due to the dynamic pricing of Sapsan may prove not so considerable.
The in-flight entertainment system is packed with movies, audio books, music, news. To use it, you need to connect your device to onboard Wi Fi. If you don’t have your own device, a steward will give you a tablet.
Staff on Sapsan speaks English.
Each coach is equipped with two large screens demonstrating movies, but they are primarily in Russian and, to be honest, not of great interest. To hear the movie sound, plug your headphones into a jack near your seat. You find your headphones in a pocket of a seat (you’d better bring your own headphones with solid sound).
Prices For Snacks And Drinks On Sapsan
We give you a few items and prices for them so that you could understand the pricing on Sapsan train in comparison to prices in cities. Generally speaking, they are 50-100 percent higher on the train than in St. Petersburg and Moscow shops and cafes.
— Potato chips — 150 rubles;
— sandwich – 250 rubles;
— a cup of cappuccino 200 rubles.
Special Services On Sapsan
Sapsan offers some services which are not of interest for most travelers, but will be useful for those with special needs.
— Coach 6 has a special room with equipment to fix a wheelchair for persons with disabilities. It is located with a WC for disabled persons and equipped with a steward call button.
— Children’s compartment. There is a seat with a diaper board for a passenger with a kid under 1, who doesn’t occupy a separate seat. It’s located in coach 10.
— Escort of children. Children from 10 to 16 can travel alone on Sapsan under supervision of the train’s personnel. The service is provided only for parents or other legal representatives of a child. It costs 1600 rubles, can be purchased no later than two days before departure and cannot be book at intermediary stations.
— Compartment for negotiations. That’s a room in the head coach just behind the driver’s cabin. It’s equipped with table, multimedia monitors and a leather sofa. It can purchased only entirely. First class services are catered with the included food, sets of traveler, press, etc.
— Lost&found. All things found by Sapsan’s stewards are handed over to luggage rooms at railways stations. Passport are handed over to the departments of the Russian Federal Migration Service (part of the Ministry of Interior) or to a police station.
For inquiries, whether your smartphone or photo camera is found, call +7 925 150 32 02 (the Leningradsky vokzal railway station in Moscow) or +7 812 457 40 03 (the Moskovsky vokzal railway station in St. Petersburg).
To get your belongings back, you are required to show your passport and a ticket for Sapsan.
— You can bring onboard your pets – dogs (with the exception of big ones), birds if you travel in Business, First or Economy classes. In the Economy class, passengers with animals take seats;
— 1, 2, 3 and 4 in coach 3 (in a double Sapsan – coach 13);
— 1, 2, 3, 4, 65 and 66 in coach 8 (in a double Sapsan – coach 18).
An important note: transportation of animal is already included in the fare for these seats (nearly 400 rubles), and you pay it no matter if you have pets with you or not. When traveling in the Business and First classes, you pay extra 900 rubles for transportation of animals. No extra pay for the compartment room.
Only one pet is allowed for one purchased ticket and maximum two pets for the same seat.
Transportation Of Bicycles On Sapsan
The common rule for Sapsan: carry-on bag may not weigh more than 36 kg and exceed 180 cm as a sum of three dimensions in size. One ticket means only one carry-on bag.
A bicycle must be dismantled and packed so that the 180 cm rule is obeyed. Other than that, it will be your carry-on which means you cannot take a rucksack or something like that for free. The «one carry-on bag for one ticket» is typically not obeyed.
Regarding luggage, we mean big bags and suitcases, there is usually enough room in a special place for luggage, and personnel on the train normally doesn’t pay attention to who and how many bags has.
A special place for luggage
Tickets For Sapsan
You can purchase tickets for Sapsan in several ways:
— at ticket offices and via travel agencies;
— through the Russian Railways’ website;
— through a Russian Railways’ app;
— through the website of www.tutu.travel
To book and buy tickets online via tutu.travel visit www.tutu.travel/poezda/
And here you can see the train schedule.
You write in your destination, select a train, then fill in personal data, the number of your passport, name, date of birth, cellular number, email and proceed to payment. You can pay with Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Webmoney, Yandex.Money, in cash at Euroset outlets, Qiwi machines, etc.
Bookings start 90 days before departure date.
Sapsan uses dynamic pricing, the closer your departure date the more expensive tickets and the fewer cheap seats. In the summer days, it’s highly recommended to book in advance, as early as possible.
Departure dates on Fridays and Sundays also tend to be popular as many employees go between the two cities to spend weekend at home and then get back to work.
Prices For Tickets For Sapsan
We looked at two departures dates so that you could better understand Sapsan fares: the first date is 90 days prior to departure, the second is seven days before it.
Booking 90 days before departure
Class of service
Fare starts at (rubles)
Dining car (meal for 2,000 rubles included)
Booking 7 days before departure
Class of service
Fare starts at (rubles)
Dining car (meal for 2,000 rubles included)
Once again, the prices above are strictly indicative, final figures depend on your concrete circumstances.
You can book tickets for several persons within the same online session.
Important note: when purchasing online you see your final fare after you have reserved your seat and moved on to check your booking. All the figures you see until this moment are not final.
Discounts For Sapsan
Sapsan provides a few tariff plans with discounts. The discounts apply to fare only, not to commissions and surcharges (a sum you pay for a ticket consists of fare + commissions + surcharges).
Tariff plan Single
The Single tariff plan is for a passenger occupying two neighboring seats. You pay 50 percent less for the second seat. A ticket for Single can be purchased at a ticket office only. This plan doesn’t apply to Conference compartment, First and Dining car classes.
Tariff plan Round trip
There is a 20 percent discount for return ticket. The both tickets must be booked within the same reservation.
Tariff plan Honey Moon
The discount for 50 percent for the Conference compartment is valid within a month after marriage registration.
Tariff plan for disabled people and their accompaniment
There is a 40 percent discount for disabled people, persons with limited mobility and those accompanying them.
Sapsan Delay Compensation
In case of delay of 60+ minutes you are eligible for compensation (doesn’t apply to service commissions and surcharges):
• 25 percent of fare in case of delay of 60 – 199 minutes;
• 50 percent of fare 50% of delay of 120 minutes and more;
The compensation is not paid if a delay was caused by forces beyond Russian Railways’ ability to control.
Getting compensation from Russian Railways for Sapsan delay
Here is the following procedure:
1. Fill in a claim form while onboard or after arrival. You can download the form from the company’s website or drop us a line and we will send it to you by email.
2. Send the filled form by mail to the address:
196641, г. Санкт-Петербург, поселок Металлострой, участок ж. д. «Река Славянка-ЛЭП», а/я 53
3. Russian Railways have 30 days to consider your claim and decide on it.
4. If all is OK, then you will be refunded in any of two ways which you defined in the claim:
— bank transfer;
— mail transfer.
Important: Russian income tax of 13 percent will be automatically paid from the sum of your compensation.
Some Interesting Technical Facts About Sapsan
1. Sapsan is a Russian version of the Siemens’s Velaro family called here Velaro Rus. The main difference is the adoption of the train for Russian severe winter. For example, a range of temperatures within which Sapsan can go has been enlarged (the train feels good under minus 50 degrees Celsius, or ); the bottom of the train is totally from snow and water.
2. The width of the Velaro Rus is 33 cm more than of the Velaro to meet the standards of the Russian Railways.
3. In the winter, Sapsans are sprayed with deicing fluid just like aircraft.
4. The temperature inside the train is 22 degrees Celsius.
5. The length of a double Sapsan is 500 meters and 78 cm, which is five football (soccer) pitches measured by FIFA standards.
6. A driver can stand tall in a cabin of the Velaro Rus unlike in the cabin of the Velaro. When driving, he periodically rises to his feet to get some movement.
7. Trolleys and roof of every Sapsan are checked every 8,000 kilometers it has gone (12-13 flights), slides of collecting pantographs are replaced every 40,000 kilometers, break shoe linings – every 200,000 kilometers.
8. There is only one driver in the cabin.
9. To be qualified to run a Sapsan, a driver must have a minimum of 10-year flawless experience on other trains and has a good health.
10. Sapsan’s driver is medically checked before every flight. Regular profound medical checks are also conducted.
11. Sapsan’s driver doesn’t leave a cabin during a flight.
12. A special bracelet is put on a driver’s wrist to control his pulse. When there is something wrong with the pulse of a driver, an alarm sound and a sign is broadcast on a screen. A driver must push a special button to signal he’s OK. After the alarm has sounded twice and the button has not been pushed, emergency brake application is being activated.
13. Makeup is obligatory for stewardesses.
P.S. In case you need a taxi to get to or from railway stations, you can book the Kiwitaxi service with their English speaking drivers.