Return of (some) international train services

The Silk Road by train. Experts: Milad, Provodnik
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Milad
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Return of (some) international train services

Post by Milad »

Hi all,

Some train traffic between Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia has been reinstated.

I doubt that this will be of much use for most travelers due to

a) the war in Ukraine
b) travel restrictions related to the war in Ukraine
c) the fact that there are still some absurd Covid-19 related entry restrictions in Russia for Western citizens (basically, there are no requirements when entering by air but you're a potential superspreader when entering by land and must undergo quarantine).

But nevertheless, I think it's a good sign and may be great next year.

The train routes to return for now between Russia and Kazakhstan (some trains run daily, some only a few days a week, check individually):

effective immediately:

625/626 Astrakhan - Atyrau

effective June 1st:

7/8 Almaty - Saratov
84/83 Karaganda - Samara
301/302 Almaty - Novosibirsk
145/146 Karaganda - Omsk
113/114 Almaty - Kazan

Trains between Russia and Mongolia:

305/306 Irkutsk - Ulanbataar (twice weekly, effective immediately)

Booking should be possible immediately, although the website of RŽD (Russian Railways) can only be accessed from abroad with a VPN at the moment.

I have no information whether Western citizens are permitted to take these trains for now (e.g. when the train Helsinki-SPB were reinstated last autumn - now cancelled due to the war - only Russian and Finnish citizens were allowed on the train while anyone could fly).

Also, I have no information if the strict Russian quarantine rules have been eased or lifted for (Western) passengers of these trains (they probably have been for locals, otherwise running these trains would make no sense).
If you have such information, you're more than welcome to share.

This should be seen in the context of Western sanctions against Russia which massively hit international flights from/to Russia. Unlike most airplanes, the good ol' Soviet trains do neither depend on spare parts from Europe or the US, nor do they formally belong to Western leasing companies (most Aeroflot planes do) which threaten to confiscate them.

Apart from the trains from/to Russia, there have also been talks and declarations of intent to return the Almaty - Tashkent train, but nothing substantial so far AFAIK.
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interrailer
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Re: Return of (some) international train services

Post by interrailer »

In general a good thing, but at the moment I'd be afraid to travel through Russia - if you posted on social media active against war you might face serious problems there...
One Russian friend living in Germany with almost no followers on instagram (lets say 150), posted about war in Russia. Someone from her followers informed the state and then her mother who lives in Buryatia got a call from the regional government that if she won't stop posting against war, they might face serious consequences.

And I think you still need a PCR test for entering Russia also by air (at least according to Austrian and Germany MFA). So the trains would be only interesting for continuing the trip to Kazakhstan or Mongolia, but in Mongolia you will end up land-locked as you can't enter China (or only with 3 weeks quarantine?). But still good that this trains are finally returning - didn't expected this anymore to happen so quickly.
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MartinN
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Re: Return of (some) international train services

Post by MartinN »

Good info!

However, at least in my country (SLOVENIA) and close surroundings (Croatia, Austria, need to recheck Budapest) Russian visa centers stop issuing tourist visa around 20th of April.
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interrailer
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Re: Return of (some) international train services

Post by interrailer »

MartinN wrote:
Wed May 04, 2022 3:23 pm
Good info!

However, at least in my country (SLOVENIA) and close surroundings (Croatia, Austria, need to recheck Budapest) Russian visa centers stop issuing tourist visa around 20th of April.
Are you sure about that? https://russia-visacentre.com/en/visa/austria/russia here it says that they are issuing visas in Vienna. Only not possible anymore to get it at the embassy (which means a doubling of the visa fees) - seems they are afraid :lol:
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Jealgu
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Re: Return of (some) international train services

Post by Jealgu »

https://www.drehscheibe-online.de/foren ... 0,10116225

In this link it is stated that trains from Kyrgyz to Russia will start running again, till Samara.

Not sire if anyone wants to travel to Russia at the moment, but it goes through Kazakhstan as well.
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RollingTreeHouse
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Re: Return of (some) international train services

Post by RollingTreeHouse »

The time table of the Kyrgyz Railways states that there are three connections between KG-KZ-RU that have been running since the second week of June, bookable through any well-sorted CIS ticket shop:
  • train 17: Bishkek-Samara via Aktobe, train 18 in the opposite direction
  • train 305: Bishkek-Kasan via Astana, train 306 in the opposite direction
  • train 385: Bishkek-Novosibirsk via Almaty, train 386 in the opposite direction
Last edited by RollingTreeHouse on Thu Jun 23, 2022 4:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jvjjjvvv
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Re: Return of (some) international train services

Post by jvjjjvvv »

RollingTreeHouse wrote:
Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:03 am
[*]train 385: Bishkek-Novosibirsk via Almaty, train 386 in the opposite direction
This is wonderful news, I need to go from Bishkek to Almaty carrying a bicycle and I wasn't easily finding information on how to do that exactly, which for me was pretty strange (I would guess that Bishkek-Almaty is a pretty important connection).
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RollingTreeHouse
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Re: Return of (some) international train services

Post by RollingTreeHouse »

jvjjjvvv wrote:
Wed Jun 22, 2022 3:54 pm
I would guess that Bishkek-Almaty is a pretty important connection.
Which most people do overland by road using the countless buses, marshrutkas and shared taxis serving that route in four hours or less (depending on traffic), since the train takes more than 14 hours to connect the same two cities.
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jvjjjvvv
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Re: Return of (some) international train services

Post by jvjjjvvv »

RollingTreeHouse wrote:
Wed Jun 22, 2022 4:03 pm
jvjjjvvv wrote:
Wed Jun 22, 2022 3:54 pm
I would guess that Bishkek-Almaty is a pretty important connection.
Which most people do overland by road using the countless buses, marshrutkas and shared taxis serving that route in four hours or less (depending on traffic), since the train takes more than 14 hours to connect the same two cities.
Thank you, I'll keep that in mind. I had planned for a train (let's say, for the most 'formal' medium of transportation possible) because I plan to show up with a huge cardboard box and I'm guessing this would be a problem for taxis and marshrutkas. But a bus should be fine, so I'll remember!
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RollingTreeHouse
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Re: Return of (some) international train services

Post by RollingTreeHouse »

Even for marshrutkas it shouldn't be as much of a problem if you're willing to pay for additional seats.
I figure that a bicycle in a box could even fit in the aisle if there isn't enough space in the trunk, the drivers can get pretty creative if there's an incentive for them.

With taxis, you'd have to find a car that can take the box and pay for all the 5 or 7 seats, since the driver won't be able to squeeze in any passengers besides you and your luggage.
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