Travelling by Train in Ukraine
Travelling by train in Kyiv and Ukraine.
Ukraine has the 13th largest rail network in the world. There are more than 13,456 miles (21,655km) of track and the preferred method of travel between cities for most people. Ukraine and Kiev have good connections to neighbouring countries such as Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Krakow, Belgrade, Zagreb, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Bucharest, Sofia and many other cities.
Travelling between major Ukrainian cities by train has many advantages when compared to either travelling by car or air. Although new roads are being built, the infrastructure and condition of the roads are far from satisfactory. Air travel may be quicker, but it is much more expensive.
In comparison, train travel is inexpensive, well operated and usually punctual. Rail travel is often quicker than travelling by road, and Ukrainian trains are an especially reliable means of transport during the winter months.
There are three types of trains in Ukraine. The electric suburban trains (Elektrichki), diesel- powered overnight and long-distance trains and new High speed trains. Electric trains usually depart from a separate station and are designed for short distances such as travelling between villages. They are quite basic, very cheap and the seating is usually made of padded seats or wooden benches. Elektrichki trains can be very crowded with commuters during the working week. Diesel trains and high speed trains are comparatively cheap and a good way to travel between city's. Sleeper carriages make it possible to sleep at night in relative comfort.
If you are travel on a sleeper train, we recommend you book First Class. It is relatively cheap by Western standards and much more comfortable. All tickets and timetables will be in Ukrainian so take a phrase book with you and clearly write down the name of the destination you are travelling to.
It can be difficult to book train tickets in the summer. Book tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Ukraine Railways Easy Purchase Tickets via App
Booking Tickets with Viber and Telegram
As of 12th January 2021 Ukraine Railways have made it possible to order train tickets and order food and other services by Chat Bot via Telegram and Viber. Payment for train tickets can be made directly in the chat bot for linked payment card in your e-wallet as well as use Google Pay, Apple Pay and Viber Chatbot Payments.
Chat bot is available in three languages - English, Ukrainian and Russian.
Ukrainian Railways Chat Bot:
Telegram: will be active soon
How to Book Tickets and What to Expect
Kiev Central Ticket Office
If you want to avoid the hassle of queuing-up at the station it is possible to buy your tickets in advance in person. The Central Ticket office in Kiev city centre is located on Tarasa Shevchenko Bulevard. Look for "Hotel Express" near Metro Universytet. You will need to pay cash as they do not take cards.
Most of the staff speak English but it will help you a lot if you come prepared. Write down the departure date and time along with the train number - A TIMETABLE can be found here
Buying a Tickets at the Station
Go directly to the central railway station, Pivdenny Terminal booths 42-43, or and join the queue. At the cashier window be prepared to speak fluent Russian or Ukrainian as it will be highly unlikely the cashier will speak English. And finally, check the ticket you have been given is the correct one. Naturally it will be written in Cyrillic and you will understand every word – or not. You will be asked:
Number of passengers
Class of carriage
Type of seat ( if sleeping – lower or upper bunk)
Single or return - Good Luck!!
Kiev Central Railway Station
The main station in Kiev (Kyiv) is Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi In Ukrainian this translates to "Київ-Пасажирський". Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi is a complex comprising of 2 stations connected by a bridge. You will be able to purchase tickets at the terminal and on line but make sure if booking on line you would choose Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi. If your travelling by metro you will need to go to Vokzhalna Metro Station on the red line.
What to Expect On the Train
Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time in advance to find your platform and board your train.
At Kiev Central station look out for your platform number to be displayed on the platform information boards displayed in the main hall. Listen out for announcements to last minute platform changes. If possible, arrive at the station with a Ukrainian colleague or friend to help you board the right train.
Finding your carriage can be a little tricky as there are no specific markers on the location of your seat. Usually the SV carriage will be situated somewhere near the middle. It is perfectly acceptable for people who accompany you to board the train and help you with your luggage.
Upon departure the steward or stewardess will check your ticket and then take it from you until the end of the journey. A good idea is to memorize your seat number or write it down. When you are settled in your cabin the steward or stewardess will bring you clean bedding, a small hand towel and a napkin. It is usually free of charge and included in the price of your ticket.
In 1st and 2nd class, storage for your luggage can be found under the seat or above your bunk if you are on the top bed. It is safer to store your luggage on the lower bunk so if possible request this option when purchasing your ticket.
Mainline trains usually operate a restaurant carriage which normally stays open until 11pm. In 1st and 2nd class the steward or stewardess can bring you tea, coffee, drinking water, beer and snacks to your cabin for a small charge. The food is not very good so our advice is to take some food and fresh drinking water with you.
If you opt for 1st or 2nd class you will find a reasonably clean rest room situated at the end of your carriage. It is basic but you will find a mirror, sink, socket for an electric shaver and a place to hang your jacket. As a precaution we would suggest you bring your own toilet paper, especially if you decide to travel 3rd class. Sometimes the rest room will be locked prior to arrival at each station as it is forbidden to use them whilst the train is stationary.
It is quite common for Ukrainians to change into something more comfortable once they are on the train. If you are sharing a cabin with stranger of the opposite sex and he or she wishes to change their clothes, you should leave the compartment and wait in the corridor until the person re-opens the door for you.
On long journeys it is possible to disembark from the train to buy fruit, beer, cigarettes and home-made food from local traders. Unless you are with a person who knows what is safe to buy and can bargain the price, we strongly advise buying anything yourself. A schedule of the stops can usually be found in the carriage by the door of the steward/stewardess.
On sleeper trains the steward/stewardess will normally awake you about 45 minutes before your stop. At the end of the journey you will be offered the return of your ticket.
Safety and Security
As in any other country, keep all your valuables and documents with you at all times.
Train theft and petty crime is a common occurrence in the Ukraine, try not to make it obvious you are a foreigner and keep your valuables out of sight.
1st and 2nd class cabins are equipped with secure door locks and security latches. Always lock your door and lower the security latch so it cannot be opened from outside before you go to bed at night. If you need to leave your cabin, you can request the steward or stewardess lock your compartment until you return.