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Buying rail tickets for travel in Russia


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#1 v v

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 08:34 AM

Have been asked by a forum member how we bought rail tickets to travel through Russia literally from the western border to Vladivostok, here's how and why we did it.

 

Here is a link to the ticket buying agency we used for Russian long distance rail travel. They are a group of businesses under the umbrella name of Trans Siberian Express.

They are based (I think) in St Petersburg but have an affiliate company in Belarus or one of the other previous Russian satellite countries to enable card payments.
The problem of making a card payment into Russia (see note below) is removed as the payment isn't sent into Russia directly but I guess is transferred later.

The service was helpful and efficient, plus fast. It worked as good as any ticket buying service that I have used.

 

If you want to visit Russia then why wait (except to avoid this year's World Cup). If you want see what makes this vast Russian country Russia then it wont happen on a guided tour, travel independently. Is it difficult? not at all if you have the right ticketing. 

 

https://www.transsiberianexpress.net/

 

There appears to be a problem making a card payment into Russia, it may be connected to Russian anti money laundering controls. I researched our entire journey in Russia using the RZD Russian state railways website, after getting used to it it works just fine with lots of information about the train(s) you want to use and it gives prices. But even to the RZD I couldn't make payment. 

Checked through a number of agencies and for price and service the Trans Siberian Express Co above came out best. Some worked really well but their mark-up was far too high above the RZD prices. There may be others who offer the same level of service at the price we paid but this one worked for us. 

 

Russian visas are expensive and sometimes not straight forward for Americans (or anybody else come to think of it). The London based company Real Russia were just superb at providing the arrangements to get a visa, but they charge a full price. It was a price worth paying as it can get a bit complex if everything isn't just right.

They also handle a lot of visas for Americans even though they are based in central London. 

 

We trained all the way from Brentwood, Essex, UK to Vladivostok, we travelled via the Ukraine capital Kiev. There is a night train from Kiev to Moscow, a journey of a lifetime that section. Did indeed feel as though we were in a spy movie. Kiev is a good city to visit too with the deepest underground station in the world to boot.

 

Hope this is a help to others in the future



#2 Palmetto

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 07:27 AM

The website The Man in Seat 61 is an excellent source for traveling in Russia, as well as in other countries.  Highly recommended, and a very interesting read for armchair travelers like me.  A link to the website was not possible.



#3 v v

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 07:54 AM

Completely agree Palmetto, nothing else quite like that website anywhere



#4 willem

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 09:30 AM

The Man in Seat Sixty-One.

 



#5 Palmetto

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Posted 21 January 2018 - 05:03 PM

Thanks, Willem.



#6 Barciur

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 09:17 PM

If all you need are train tickets, then I would highly recommend attempting to buy tickets on the Russian Railways website directly - this is the cheapest way to do it.

 

https://pass.rzd.ru/...-pass/public/en

 

There may be an issue with a credit card, but try this first. I used this extensively on my trips there. :)



#7 v v

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 09:36 PM

I agree with you Barciur, except...  we tried a combination of 3 card holder, 1 in Taiwan and 2 in the UK, 5 cards with a mix between debit and credit cards, asked our bank to make a serious check as to why we could pay as they was so much more in each account than the value of the tickets and still it wasn't possible.

I think the clue is that the agency we used had to accept payment outside of Russia although they are a Russian company.

 

I think if you want an E-Ticket it was impossible for us to buy direct, if we wanted a voucher to collect at a station then it had a slight chance. We wanted all our tickets up front in our hands and preferred the E-Ticket to a voucher as we weren't sure if someone queried it at the station if it would make life difficult.

 

Maybe also it has something to do with this particular journey, did you buy tickets for the Trans Sib?

 

Did you manage to buy E-Tickets and were all your Russia journeys originating within Russia, I'm really interested now as we may be going back. If anyone buys rail tickets originating in Russia by using a non Russian card I'd appreciate it if you let this thread know.

 

The point of posting this advice was it worked seamlessly and cost not too much more than RZD, I would have preferred to buy direct too but at that time (a year ago) it just wasn't possible.



#8 Barciur

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 09:42 PM

Yes, I bought a numerous e-tickets via this website and that was in 2016. The key to this was to have a card with 3D Secure option enabled. There were a couple of banks which had this in Poland, and I used a card with 3D Secure option. Not so common in America, not sure about elsewhere to be honest - but I know people on Polish travel forums were talking about how cards without said option would not work whereas cards with it worked seamlessly.

 

As it were, all of my tickets are still available online. I had an e-ticket for a trip originating in Russia, Belarus and France ;)

 

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Edited by Barciur, 22 January 2018 - 09:43 PM.


#9 v v

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 05:47 AM

Well it's less of a puzzle this morning. Our bank for 3 of the cards did say they had not even had a request for money, 3 of our cards are 3D security too, but...  Rosie has reminded me that we were trying to buy tickets during the first week of January into the second week and someone had suggested that much (but not all) of the Russian bank system closed for an extended time during this holiday.

 

This was all being arranged just 6 weeks before we left the UK and it involved us buying tickets for 3 other people apart from ourselves, we had to book the Trans Sib tickets before we could book any of the other tickets on this round the world journey as the whole journey was based on the Trans Sib, and although spent several days trying to pay couldn't take longer as there was so much to arrange that hinged on buying those tickets.

 

Once we knew we had the Trans Sib tickets I bought tickets from UK, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia (Air tickets), Taiwan, USA with no problem with the same cards in the same week, so only the extended New Year close down is a logical answer, others beware.






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