Five reasons to choose Ukraine train travel.
1. Ukraine train is a very reliable kind of transportation. It departs and arrives on time (except for rare occasions) no matter what the weather and time of year.
2. Railroad network in Ukraine is very extensive. Total length of railroads in Ukraine is almost 22 800 km. Many towns and villages just cannot be reached via air. No wonder that train travel in Ukraine is so popular.
3. Train tickets are very inexpensive. For example, a ticket in the 2nd class car from Kiev will cost you, roughly: Lviv -$20, Odessa — $22, Dnepr- $19(includes insurance and taxes).
4. Most trains are beautifully timed to depart in the evening and arrive at their final destination in the morning.
5. You will find train travel in Ukraine to be pretty comfortable. The atmosphere on the train is usually quite friendly. During long journey people tend to communicate and talk a lot. Sharing home-made food and drink with others traveling in your compartment is common. For those who have been traveling by train in Ukraine while USSR times, or right after the country got its independence is very well known that you could order a glass of tea that served in a metal pattern made glass-holder, that goes with two packed sugar cubes. But now days this tendency is not very often in use, so on board you also can be served with a plastic or paper glass of tea or coffee.
Train classes and sleeping accommodations.
If you look at the railway timetables, you will notice that each train has a number. According to those numbers trains are classified into a few classes:
Intercity+ «Hyundai» — South Korean manufactured Fast Train that was purchased of Ukraine government right in 2012 for the time while Ukraine was taking EU soccer tournament. It goes between major cities like: Kiev, Odessa, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Lviv. The trip usually takes 5-6 hrs, with very few stoppage on the way of its destination. It’s one of the most convenient, fast and not very expensive way to get to one of the Ukrainian main cities. All seats are for sitting traveling 1st & 2nd class.
Below is the video that will help you with the way the train looks from inside and outside, also you would see some of the features and services provided on the train. No doubt it can be in a great help for you while your traveling by Intercity+ train in Ukraine
Express trains («Skory poezd») (train number from 1 to 149) usually going through the night (departure in the evening, arrival in the morning) between big cities. Those trains don’t make many stopovers, have good level of service. The best of them (“firmenny poezd”) have their own name (for example , train “Odessa” connects Kiev and Odessa), and don’t make many stops.
Fast trains (train number from 151 to 170) are the new generation of Ukrainian trains. They run smooth, have high comfort level, and greatly reduced travel time. The most recent one to go into service is “Stolichniy Express” connecting Kiev and Moscow. Travel time between two capitals has been reduced from 13-15 to 9.5 hours.
Passenger trains (train number from 171 to 869) are the slowest in the family of Ukrainian trains. They make numerous stopovers. The quality of a train depends on the route. Some of trains are quite good while others are hardly acceptable. They certainly won’t be your #1 Ukraine train choice.
Suburban trains (train number from 6001 to 6999) .These are the short distance trains utilizing sitting cars. They are very slow and most of the time overcrowded, especially on weekends and in the summer time. Conditions for traveling are less than perfect. Should be taken if you don’t have any other choice.
As a rule a Ukraine train offers 3 main classes of sleeping accommodations:
«SV» is a 1st class sleeper with an individual compartment for two people. Each of them is equipped by an air conditioner and a small wash-stand. Air conditioning is functioning while the train engine is working. Both berths are at the lower level. There are 9 compartments in a car. Cost approximately 2.5 times more than 2nd class sleeper.
«Coupe», sleeper (2nd class) has an individual compartment for four (occasionally for three) people. Two berths are at the lower level and two at the upper level. Has an air conditioner. There are 9 compartments in a car. This is the most popular class and gets booked up first on some routes.
«Platskartny» (3rd class) is an open-plan dormitory car for 54 people. There are 54 berths, arranged in bays of 6: 4 on one side of the aisle (seats # from 1 to 36) and two on the other side along the coach (seats # from 37 to 54). Very cheap, as long as you don’t mind to socialize with people.
Information about timetables and possible options to buy Ukraine train tickets can be found at Ukraine train tickets page.
While on board of the Ukraine Train.
First of all don’t be late. You will still need to find a platform and a car to which you are assigned. At the door to the car, attendant (“provod’nik” -male, provod’nitsa — female) will check your ticket.
In 20 — 30 minutes after departure provodnik will come around to take your ticket and collect fee for bedding (about $ 2.5 US). After he brings bedding (two sheets, pillowcase and towel) make your own bed unless you’re lucky enough to be in a first-class compartment where this service has already been provided.
You will be offered a glass of hot tea (it costs about 0.50 cents). But it is a better idea to bring your own cup and a few bags of tea or coffee. Hot water is available for free in the boiler at the end of the corridor. Bring your own toilet paper, just in case there is none in the bathroom.
Most long distance trains have a restaurant. If you prefer your own menu for snacks or lunch, you can bring something to eat and drink with you. It is quite common situation when people in your compartment invite you to join them for a meal.
Traveling by train in Ukraine is secure, as long as you use common sense that you would use anywhere:
Keep your luggage in a safe place under a bottom bunk. Keep money, documents and valuables on yourself. Try not to leave your compartment for a long time. Lock the compartment door during the night.
You can also travel alone by Ukraine train if you wish — just book a full compartment for your private usage. But it might be smarter to exchange some privacy for possible increased safety when there are other people in your compartment.
Whichever way of train travel you choose, try to accept it as a fun adventure. After a few journeys you will become an expert at Ukraine train travel.
Our final advice is:
Look for the Express trains («Skory poezd») and «Fast trains» (train numbers from 01 to 169) or Intercity+ in Ukraine Train Schedule. Buy tickets for the 1st and 2nd class cars only. This way you will avoid many problems with traveling comfort.