Trains are the most comfortable way to travel around Russia. The service is superb and surprisingly punctual for Russia with many different types of trains, local and long distance, as well as express trains going to most places several times a day. You can check the train schedules and ticket prices on the Russian Railroad website (www.rzd.ru). The English-language version of the site does not allow you to buy tickets online, so ask a Russian to help you. You may also have problems buying tickets online with a foreign credit card. Another option is to buy the ticket at one of the train stations. In Moscow there are nine train major terminals: Paveletsky for trains heading southeast; Kursky for South- and East-bound trains; Kievsky for trains going southwest; Belorussky for west-bound trains; Savelovsky for trains going northeast; Rizhsky for trains going to Latvia; Kazansky for eastbound trains along the Volga and to Central Asia; Leningradsky for north and west-bound trains to St. Petersburg; and Yaroslavsky for the northeast direction toward Yaroslavl and long-distance trains, including the Transsiberian. All the train stations are easily accessible through the metro. Train cars are non-smoking, but smoking is allowed in the space between the cars. Most other cities have one main train station. If you need to change trains it is better to plan with either an agent or a sales clerk at the train station ticket booth. Allow at least two hours for transfer. There are several fast trains called Sapsan that travel between Moscow and St. Petersburg daily.
There are three classes of train accommodation: the cheapest is platskart, doorless compartments with two berths on the bottom and two at the top, plus side births on the bottom and top along the hallway; the second class is kupé, closed-door four-person compartments with berths at the top and bottom; and first class lyuks are two-person compartments with doors. Deluxe lyuks are two- and one-person compartments that may include a shower, a sink, and a TV with a DVD player. Cost of train ride depends on the destination. The platskart class trip of about 30 hours costs about 3,000R, while a deluxe lyuk trip of the same length could cost about 25000R.
Commuter trains, or elektrichkas, are a reliable and cheap way to get to suburban destinations, especially since many cities, especially Moscow, have a lot of traffic on the outbound roads. You can buy a ticket just minutes before your train, and if you miss it, there will be another one along shortly. Tickets for most suburban destinations out of Moscow range from 100R to 300R. You can check train schedules on the Russian Railways website. The trains are a quick and cheap way to get to destinations, but don't expect much comfort. The seats are hard and it gets crowded, especially on summer weekend mornings and Sunday evenings when people are coming and going from their dachas (summer cottages).