Russian Railways Regulations - Know Your Rights When You Travel by Train in Russia

Author: Dimitry Paranyushkin (on 11 Jun 2019)
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you are late for your train, suddenly decide to stop in the middle of a 4-day Trans-Siberian journey, or whether you can carry this fancy Soviet Ural motorcycle back home by train.
All these and many more situations are regulated by the two acts: The Transport Codex of the Russian Railways (further - TC) and The Rules of Passengers and Cargo Transportation (further RPT). We carefully read through the both documents to present you a concise summary of the most interesting and important rules. It is not a legal advice (so we're not responsible for anything bla bla bla bla...), but some useful information that will allow you to make your train journeys through Russia more flexible and less expensive.


• Lost and Damaged Tickets (Article 90 of TC) will not be re-issued or renewed if it is not possible to do so or to identify the owner. Which means you probably need a copy of the ticket and your passport to make sure you get a re-issue.

• Children Tariffs (Article 92 of TC). Passengers have the right to carry one child for free (maximum age 5 years old) if the child doesn't require an extra place. A special child ticket should be obtained prior to departure. Children aged from 5 to 10 can travel on a reduced fare.

• Stopovers (Article 92 of Transport Codex and Sections 24 and 44 of Passenger Transportation Rules). Passengers have the right to make one stop along the way for not longer than 10 days (to be able to use the ticket for the remaining journey). In order to prolong the validity of their tickets, passengers should present it to the station's master during the first 4 hours after the train's arrival. The station master should make two special stamps on the ticket: one prolonging the validity and the other specifying the time and date of the next train's departure. You might also need to pay the fee, which is the price of so-called "platzcarta" or a reservation — that is usually 30-50% of your ticket price. So if you stopped, let's say, half-way through, you'll end up paying about 25% of the ticket price to board the next train. Which makes it more economical, in some cases, to simply buy two separate tickets. These rules are not valid for local suburban trains.

Important: You should make sure that you stamp your ticket at the station's master to indicate that a stopover at a particular station was made. You will need to get a reservation for the next train you're going to take directly at the station, before boarding it. In reality this procedure might take a lot of time, so a more time-efficient way is to buy separate tickets. So jumping out of the train is really an option if you liked the landscape so much that you can't hold it back, then it's probably worth it.


• Early Departures (Article 92 of TC). Passengers have the right to depart with an earlier train than the one they have tickets for, but a special mark made on the ticket by the train station ticket office is required.
• Late Departures (Article 92 of TC). If a passenger is less than 3 hours late for the train, he has the right to get another ticket for an extra payment that equals the price of "platzcarta" (the reservation for a certain train - usually 25-50% of the total fare, depending on the train type). If a passenger is late for the train because of an illness or an accident this time span is prolonged up to 3 days.

• Returns and Refunds of the Russian Train Tickets (Article 92). If a passenger returns the tickets to the train station's ticket office, he has certain rights for a refund (or for a new ticket), depending on how much time is left before the departure:
- Not later than 8 hours before departure. Get the full refund for the fare paid (consisting of the ticket price and platzcarta-reservation price) or have the ticket exchanged without any fees.
- Between 8 and 2 hours before the departure. Get the refund minus 20% of platzcarta (reservation price) - usually this equals 5-10% of the total fare paid or have the ticket exchanged.
- Less than 2 hours before departure. Get the refund minus platzcarta (reservation) - usually this equals 25-50% of the total fare paid (or get a new ticket issued).
Passengers are entitled to the full refund (ticket exchange) before the train departure if the train is cancelled or is going to be late.
If a passenger is late for a train connection due to the Russian Railway's fault, he is entitled to the full refund for this train.
Passengers can also get a refund for the part of the journey they didn't make, if they decide to stop along the way, but the price of platzcarta (usually 25% of the total fare) will be retained. To prove that only a part of journey was made, passengers should get a stamp from the train master or station's master at every stop they make.
Comment: If you paid a service fee to a travel agency, this fee is not usually refunded if you return your ticket. The tickets should be returned directly to the train station where they were purchased. Also, it is important to note, that the other document (RPT) provides different time spans: the first is up to 24 hours (instead of 15), the second is between 24 and 4 hours. The TC should have a priority, but if you want to avoid any fees, it's better to refund / change your ticket 24 hours before the departure.

• Seat / Couch Reservation (Article 94 of TC). If it is impossible to provide the reserved seat or couch to the passengers, the Russian Railways have to propose a similar place of the same or higher category at no extra charge. If a lower class place is proposed the difference in the fare should be refunded. It is up to passenger to accept or refuse this alternative, and in case of refusal, the full refund should be provided.

• Late Trains (Article 130). If the train is departing later than the scheduled time or arrives to the destination later than scheduled, the Russian Railways will pay a fine to the passenger that equals 3% of the total fare for every hour of the delay. Unless it can prove that the delay was incurred by force-major situation or by a technical problem that was putting to risk the passengers of the train.

• The Number of Seats Available for One Passenger (Section 11 of RPT). Each passenger has the right to occupy only one space in regional, seating, or platzcart (common) trains, no matter how many tickets were purchased. In 2nd class (kupe) and 1st class (sleeper) carriages one passenger can purchase maximum two places.

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• If You are Left Behind Your Train (Section 35) you should notify the station's master about this, and he will be able to prolong the validity of your ticket by stamping it. If you had your belongings left in the train that you missed, the station's master will send a telegram to the train's master to ask them put out your belongings from the train and store it at the next available station. You will then be given a free ticket to this station to be able to collect your belongings (and ticket). All this service should be provided for free.

• Upgrades & Place Changes While on Train (Sections 49 and 50 of RPT). Passengers have the right to upgrade their accommodation in the trains by notifying the master of the train and paying the price difference. In case a passenger decides to downgrade his accommodation, it is also possible, but no refunds will be made.
Comment: This is an useful rule especially for those who are traveling on long-distance trains where you have a risk of sharing a compartment for four days with a neighbor you don't like. The easiest way is to ask the conductor to change your seat and then if it's not possible use the procedure described above.

• Refusal in Boarding (Section 57 of RPT). The Russian Railways have the right to refuse carrying or to put out of the train the passenger who is drunk or who disturbs other passengers.

• Smoking. Smoking is allowed in "tambur" only (the passage areas between the carriages).on long-distance trains.

• Luggage Restrictions (Section 59). Each passenger has the right to carry for free up to 36 kg of hand luggage. Each item should be not more than 180 cm in 3 dimensions. These restrictions do not apply to handbags, ski, fishing equipment, kayaks, cameras, umbrellas and other small items. It is allowed to carry camping gas bottles.
Comment: It is possible to carry bigger items in the baggage carriage of the train. In order to do it, you need to purchase a special ticket before the train departs. The minimum weight is 5 kg, the maximum is restricted by the space there is in the carriage (it is even possible to carry motorcycles, mopeds, etc.)

• Pets (Article 64-65). It is allowed to carry dogs on the train, in baggage carriages (a cage with a tray is required).



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