POST 4 – October 26th 2018 – Travel lifestyle
From Moscow to St. Petersburg using "Sapsan"
Russian railways “Sapsan” Business class Moscow Leningradsky to St. Petersburg Moskovsky station
Sapsan is the Russian name for the high-speed train service connecting major cities in the west of Russian, and the most famous route is between Moscow Leningradsky station and St Petersburg Moskvovsky station. The journey duration takes about 4 hours and 4 classes of service are available : Economy where you get just a regular train seat, Economy plus, where you get a drink and a snack, Business class where the seats are more roomy and confortable and you get a proper meal served and First class where the seats recline and the car configuration is organized in 1×2 seats (compared to 2×2 confirguration for the other classes). While First class looks very nice, it was out of my pricing range (more than 150 Euros). Business class was, however, very competitively priced and I paid about 45 Euros for this one-way trip, so just about 15 Euros more than Economy plus.
Finally, the train is produced by Siemens (similar to the German ICE).
I had a few issues departing my hotel this morning as 3 different Yandex taxi drivers never showed up to my hotel. Traffic was this time no excuse as it was 6 am and there was no traffic at all. Eventually, the hotel concierge called a different taxi service and I arrived at 6.52 in front of Leningradsky station. After placing my belongings into the X-ray and going through the metal detectors (standard practice everywhere in Russia), I got into the station and headed directly to the platform 9, where a second baggage screening was occuring. Fortunately, this entire security screening process is quite smooth and I did not wast too much time with it. I was on the platform 4 minutes before departure and was greeted by an English speaking agent from RZD (the Russian railways company) at the door who indicated me my car and seat number.
I should also mention that business and first class passengers are eligible to use the RZD lounge in Moscow and St Petersburg stations. I was planning to do so, but due to my late arrival at the station, I was unable to do so.
Sapsan 756AA – October 19th 2018
Moscow Leningradsky station – 07.00
St Petersburg Moskvosky station – 11.01
Business class, Car 12, seat 01
The luggage rack located near this seat was already quite full, but the overhead compartments can accomodate carry on size luggage quite easily. A wardrobe is located at the center of the car. Wifi service, which included a selection of movies and music was available, I did not use the latter, but the Wifi connection speed was decent.
The car is equipped with central TV screens and the seats can partially recline, although this feature did not seem to be working on my seat. The seat was anyway comfortable enough that I was able to have a short nap in the normal position.
Finally, each seat pocket contains a pair of earplugs and some sleepers.
Shortly after departure, the crew, which consisted in 2 attendants per car, came to offer newspapers. Then a beverage service was done and a towelette was provided and about 30 minutes later the breakfast service was done. The crew spoke a bit of English, but for the sake of better understanding a paper menu was handed at the time of ordering. It would have been more comfortable to have this menu before hand, but this is a detail.
I ordered the spinach pancakes with smoked cod and it was very good. It came with some egg whites omelette (I believe) which was ok and a bread roll and yogurt.
A second beverage was offered on request.
Half way through the trip, I decided to visit the center section of the train where the restaurant car is located and in the car next to it, a small shop is available. You could also order some items straight from your seat using the onboard entertainment system and those would be delivered straight to your seat. The selection of products offered was quite wide.
The service on board was good (prompt and professional service, but don’t expect useless smiles – very Russian service). I was however surprised about the amount of crew members onboard between the attendants, conductors and security staff. I could count an average of 3 or 4 staff members per car. Something you unfortunately don’t see anymore in western Europe.
We arrived in St Petersburg a couple minutes early and it was a long walk to reach the station exit. I took this opportunity to take additional pictures of the train and even made my first crewfie of this trip ! (ok, it was sunny that day – hence the glare on the pic).
All things considered, I think that taking Sapsan is an excellent option to connect between both cities. The pricing was very adequate, and multiple trains operate daily between both cities, with a couple intermediate stops in between.
For more information about the different classes onboard, there is a nice YouTube video (in English).