Arriving by Rail
If you're coming up to St Petersburg from Moscow, you will arrive at the Moskovsky Railway Station, a central artery in the city’s rail and metro systems located on Ploshchad Vosstaniya in Vosstaniya. Russian Railways (RZhD) operates the Siemens-manufactured Sapsan high speed train (the name for a type of hawk in Russian) which runs about 6-8 times a day in both directions, and takes around 3.45 to 4.5 hours to complete the trip depending on whether it stops at stations en route. Arrival is something of an event in itself as the station plays the rather majestic St Petersburg city anthem (music by Gliere from his 1949 opera The Bronze Horseman, Medniy Vsadnik) over the loudspeakers to greet the arrival of the Moscow trains. In all cases and for more information about booking rail tickets, follow this link.
While the trains are high speed, the tracks they run on are still being updated. This project (together with an extensive network of high speed trains covering many of European Russia’s major cities) will be completed in time for the 2018 Football World Cup championships and will reduce the travel time to a little over 2 hours. The trains all offer wide aisles and comfortable, reclining seats. There is a restaurant car with free wifi, television screens throughout the train showing classic Soviet movies (usually comedies), and a buffet trolley service. All in all a contemporary, relaxing and civilized way to travel. Tickets should be booked in advance as demand currently exceeds supply, especially during summer months and holiday periods when tour groups make block bookings or weary Muscovites head north for a weekend of relaxation. Reckon on spending up to RUB 3,000 for the one-way fare, and double that for a round trip.
A similar service is offered by a joint venture between Russian Railways (RZhD) and Finnish Railways to operate a high speed service between St Petersburg and Helsinki, Finland. This train, using the Alstom-manufactured Pendolino, is called the Allegro, runs four times per day in both directions, and takes about 3.5 hours to complete the 415 km trip. Customs and immigration procedures are very conveniently conducted on the train. Fares are seasonal, but are around EUR 80 one-way most of the year rising to EUR 92 one-way in July and August. Trains depart from and arrive at Finlandsky station, in Vyborgskaya.