Moscow Train Stations
Text Dominic Esler
Belorussky Vokzal, Opened 1870
Despite an imposing exterior, Belorussky vokzal’s halls are generally small and quiet, with an atmosphere of faded Soviet glamour. In the long distance ticket hall look out for the network plan that plots the route all the way to London. Belorussky vokzal is also the only station in Moscow with the honour of hosting a Subway sandwich bar.
Serves Smolensk, Kaliningrad, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Latvia. Suburban trains to the west of Moscow leave from this station.
Rizhsky Vokzal, Opened 1901
Rizhsky vokzal, with its elegant sky-blue façade, is the quietest station in Moscow, serving primarily as the departure point for Latvia. If you are travelling to the station by metro, you need to walk under the Prospekt Mira fly-over to reach the station as the metro station is on the opposite side of the road.
Trains to Latvia and Kazakhstan leave from Rizhsky vokzal, as do suburban trains to the north west.
Savyolovsky Vokzal, Opened 1902
The effect of Savyolovsky vokzal’s prim peach façade is marred by the unappealing pink and grey panelling inside. Savyolovsky vokzal is the sole station in Moscow to serve only suburban trains, although it also the departure point for the airport express to Sheremetyevo.
Suburban trains to the south of Moscow and the southern part of the Moscow oblast leave from here, as well as the Sheremetyevo airport express.
Kazansky Vokzal, Opened 1864
It may be busy, dirty, and slightly seedy, but huge Kazansky vokzal is undoubtedly the king of Moscow train stations, as well as being one of the largest in Europe. Watch out for new arrivals hauling watermelons all the way from Central Asia. The red tower above the entrance hall is a copy of the leaning Syuyumbike Tower that stands in the Kazan kremlin.
This station serves Kazan, Ufa, Ryazan, Samara, Novorossiisk, the Caucasus, Siberia, and Central Asia. Suburban trains to the south east also leave here.
Leningradsky Vokzal, Opened 1851
Leningradsky vokzal serves St. Petersburg and the north, and is therefore the busiest station in Moscow, although it’s certainly not the largest. Surprisingly unostentatious, Leningradsky vokzal is clean and modern, with a severe shortage of chairs. The station is also an exact copy of its opposite number in St Petersburg, Moskovsky vokzal. Leningradsky vokzal is sometimes referred to by its former name of Oktyabrsky on tickets and timetables.
Serves St. Petersburg, north western Russia, Estonia, and Finland. Suburban trains to the north west.
Yaroslavsky Vokzal, Opened 1862
With its fairytale-cottage exterior, elegant canary-yellow halls and airy modern extension, Yaroslavsky vokzal may be the most inviting station in Moscow. This station is the start of the longest stretch of railway in the world; to Valdivostok. The trans-Siberian to China route railway leaves from here.
Serves Yaroslavl, Archangelsk, Vorkuta, Siberia, Russian Far East, Mongolia, China, and North Korea. Suburban trains to the north east.
Kursky Vokzal, Opened 1896
Although cursed with an extremely ugly glass exterior, Kursky vokzal is actually a very pleasant station. The front half – a large modern extension in the style of an airport – has a supermarket, branches of Shokoladnitsa and Planeta Sushi, and even signs translated into English; unusual for Moscow stations. Beyond lies a row of original, ornately decorated rooms, where you can find the plushest station restaurant in Moscow – perhaps in the whole of Russia.
Kursky vokzal serves southern Russia, Caucasus nations, Eastern Ukraine, and the Crimea. Suburban trains to the east and south.
Paveletsky Vokzal, Opened 1900
Paveletsky vozal possesses a solid brown exterior and Sovietera marble halls, and can be busy and confusing. The metro emerges within the station itself, although you need to be on the dark green line to come out in the right place. Near the metro exit is a special departure hall for the Aeroexpress to Domodedovo Airport. If you arrive at the station by car, the Aeroexpress departure lounge is on the left end of the station.
Airport express to Domodedovo Airport. Serves Voronezh, Tambor, Volgograd, Astrakhan, Baku and Kazakhstan. Suburban trains to the south east.
Kievsky Vokzal, Opened 1918
Kievsky vokzal fully compensates for its awkward layout with vast, ornate, pink and pea-green waiting rooms, classically decorated with pillars, vases and floral wreaths. The station is also the departure point for Vnukovo airport, and the airport express waiting lounge is another marvel in itself, with high arched ceiling, stained-glass window, and atmospheric lighting. The large new Evropeisky shopping mall is located next to the station.
Airport express to Vnukovo airport. Serves Bryansk, western Ukraine, south eastern Europe, Austria, Venice. Suburban trains to the south west.
Tickets can be bought at any train station, although ordering them at the regular ticket booths can be a long and frustrating process. Many train stations have a “service centre,” where you pay a small fee of around 100 roubles to buy your tickets in a more comfortable, relaxed environment. Travel agencies can also save you a lot time and effort, for only a small commission.
However, new ticket touch-screens are now located in all Moscow train stations. These provide all necessary information, such as ticket availability and pricing; simply note down the details of the desired train and take it to the ticket booth. Although still entirely in Russian these are incredibly useful, particularly as you rarely need to queue. And, while you can’t pay for your tickets at these screens, a new model of automatic ticket dispenser is currently being trialled at Paveletsky vokzal.
Always have your passport number handy when buying tickets, even for journeys within Russia. Don’t forget that it is not possible to buy an open or stopover ticket, so you will need to buy every leg of your route separately. It is also impossible to buy tickets more than 45 days in advance.