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Comparing Three Russian High-Speed Trains: Sapsan, Strizh, and Lastochka

When visiting Russia, choosing to ride on a high-speed train can open up possibilities, not just in terms of routes, but also in terms of experiences. Russia is an enormous country, but also one with an interesting railroad history. Now, it also boasts modern, fast-paced trains that eliminate time spent waiting between seeing exhilarating sights.

The Speedy Sapsan

The fastest train in Russia is the Sapsan bullet train. It’s named for the peregrine falcon. Launched in 2009, it can reach 250 km/h, halving the duration of several travel routes. However, speed is far from the only attribute. This Siemens train has soundproofing, temperature regulation, nice toilets and plentiful storage. The restaurant car is great. While aboard, travelers can book tours and transportation and buy souvenirs. They’ll also enjoy an office to complete their travel or work to-do’s. A photocopier, printer and scanner are available. Finally, handicapped and aging passengers will find that their needs have been thoroughly anticipated and will be met.

Seven different Sapsan Moscow to St. Petersburg ticket options, in terms of class, allow passengers to hit their sweet spot in terms of cost and needed perks. Basic is the lowest level, and it doesn’t include any entertainment options.

Sapsan Economy provides an entertainment portal. It features information about the train itself, as well as Moscow and St. Petersburg. Periodicals, movies, books, audiobooks, music and children’s entertainment keep folks entertained.

Economy+ is the first class to offer a (cold) meal and power outlet. Dining Class passengers pay a 2,000 rouble down payment on their meal. They have a table in the restaurant car for the entire trip.Sapsan Business Class passengers receive access to the Business Lounge at the station. They also get a hot meal. A travel kit and pillow complete the Business-Class experience.

First Class on most means of transport features wide, reclining seats and Sapsan delivers. With reading lamps, one can entertain oneself or take care of business.

The Conference Suite provides a meeting table with four reclining seats, a sofa, TV and Playstation. A minibar makes "meeting" or watching Playstation action all the more interesting or relaxing.In 2020, new Sapsan trains arrived with additional features. These include personal outlets and water coolers. A Family Carriage includes a play area and entertainment.

Sapsan trains also operate on the St. Petersburg to Nizhny Novgorod route.

When to choose Sapsan:

With its plentiful on-board features, Sapsan is a great choice to accommodate those without a budget, or perhaps elderly or discerning travelers. As far as Moscow to St. Petersburg trains go, the Sapsan is the best experience, and it lasts only a pleasant three and a half hours. Better yet, it offers many departure times. At peak times, the longest high-speed trains in the world zip along with twenty carriages. Likewise, if you’re only doing this route, a Sapsan train makes one feel more at home and not even on the road (well, the tracks).


The Spanish-built Talgo trains run on the Strizh line. Travelers can take a Moscow to Nizhny Norvgorod train or go from Novgorod – St. Petersburg – Samara. Although it was nixed during the pandemic, it did travel international between Berlin, Warsaw and Moscow. It speeds along at 250 km/h.

WiFi and temperature-controlled carriages make this train comfortable. However, it lacks some of the more modern features enjoyed aboard a Sapsan. A "Fellow Traveler" multimedia portal allows passengers to request food. It also has an interactive map, train information and news articles. A snack-filled buffet car and a restaurant car keep hunger at bay.

Strizh Class Options:

Passengers traveling overnight on a Strizh will want to review the three class options: Second, First and Deluxe.

  • Strizh Second Class – Four passengers per compartment is the Second-class standard.
  • First Class – First class has one or two-passenger cabins.
  • Deluxe Class – Offering one or two- passenger setups, deluxe class has a private bathroom. One handicapped cabin is available per train.

When to choose Strizh:

The Strizh train is the best option to go from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod or Moscow to Vladimir. The reason? The trip duration is the same, while you save money. You can get a higher-class ticket for the same price.


The Lastochka is named for a swallow bird in Russian. Germain-made trains run on this more basic train line. The Basic ticket holds true to the Basic name, and the Standard trains only offer this class. Economy includes an electric socket. An adjustable leather seat is the upgrade in Economy+. Meanwhile, Business class includes a meal.

When to choose Lastochka:

The short answer is to choose it when you need to! Lastochka is the best option when the Sapsan or Strizh lines aren’t available. Those weaving through a web of Russian destinations or to less popular routes certainly shouldn’t hesitate to book this perfectly viable high-speed option.

Some of the popular Lastochka routes include:

  1. Krasnodar – Imeretinsky Resort, (to see Sochi Winter Olympic Park);
  2. Krasnodar – Rostov-on-Don;
  3. Ekaterinburg – Tyumen;
  4. Moscow to the Golden Ring cities – (See Kostroma and Ivanovo);
  5. Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod;
  6.  St Petersburg – Vyborg;
  7. St Petersburg – Oranienbaum;
  8. St Petersburg – Petrozavodsk;
  9. St Petersburg – Pskov.

Many travelers wonder about their options for Moscow and St. Petersburg trains and the best options to go between them or when leaving from them. With three high-speed trains breaching the vast distances of the Russian landscape, you can plan on seeing more of Russia, faster, and without forgoing comforts and conveniences.

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella.