Traveling By Train – A Great Way to Explore Ukraine
There is so much to see and do in the fascinating country of Ukraine, that visitors may find it difficult to decide on an itinerary. Rather than rushing from one tourist attraction to another, many choose to explore Ukraine by means of its extensive railroad network, allowing them to enjoy the journey just as much as the actual destination. Railway travel in Ukraine is very reliable, comfortable, safe and relatively inexpensive, and in addition to linking all major destinations in Ukraine and its neighboring countries, the railroad network passes through many charming towns and villages which are well worth seeing.
Railroad timetables are available at most train stations, and as well as listing arrival and departure times for various destinations, the timetable indicates the class of each train by means of an allocated number. Express trains have been allocated numbers 1 through to 149. These generally travel between big cities, have a good level of service, don’t have many stopovers and travel through the night. Fast trains have the allocated numbers of 151 through to 170. These new generation trains are noted for their smooth running, high level of comfort and reduced travel time. For example, the “Stolichniy Express” which runs between Kiev and Moscow has cut traveling time from around 15 hours to just over 9 hours. During the winter months, when airplanes are sometimes grounded due to bad weather, the trains in Ukraine keep running, making traveling by train an attractive travel option for locals and tourists alike.
Express and Fast trains generally offer three main classes of sleeping accommodation, with the level of comfort determined by the price. A first class compartment is for two people and is air conditioned along with a number of other perks, while a second class compartment accommodates four people and also has some home comforts. Third class is a dormitory-style carriage with up to 50 sleeping berths arranged in bays along either side of an aisle – certainly not private, but nonetheless popular.
Passenger trains and suburban trains vary greatly in comfort and speed. These short distance trains make numerous stops along the way, depending on the route, and tend to be overcrowded. When traveling on these, tourists must be prepared for a lot of togetherness, however it is an excellent way to experience travel in Ukraine from the perspective of a native Ukrainian.
Some pointers to bear in mind when traveling by train in Ukraine include arriving on time – the train will not wait for you. Around 20 to 30 minutes after departure the attendant will come and take your ticket while at the same time collecting a fee for bedding if required, which is delivered soon after. First class compartments will have the beds already made up. Tea and coffee is provided at a minimal cost, but those who wish to can bring their own along, as a boiler in the corridor provides hot water throughout the journey. Long distance trains generally have a restaurant, but it is common for people to bring their own picnic-style meal which is shared with others in the compartment irrespective of whether they are strangers or not – this applies particularly to third class compartments. This is a great way to try out some traditional Ukrainian cuisine, but make sure you have something to offer in return. Otherwise, general safety rules apply, as they would anywhere else in the world.
Those that have visited Ukraine will tell you that it can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Traveling by train in this beautiful country is likely to make your visit even more unforgettable.