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Ukrainian Trains

A general rant about our experiences

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We previously blogged about the Kiev metro. It is pretty uninspiring, always packed, but reliable and cheap.

We heard that Ukraine has some very nice, modern trains particularly on the popular routes Odessa-Kiev-lviv. Some apparently even have power sockets and WiFi. We never saw anything like this on our routes. We caught a variety of trains - intercity and local. Here's a few observations about Ukrainian trains:

1. They are all extremely old, probably from Soviet era
2. The windows haven't been cleaned since Soviet times, so you are unlikely to see anything out the window due to the grime
3. They are always late (and in our case one was cancelled leaving us stranded in a small country village)
4. The attendants are mostly useless. They don't clean, or do anything. They are all grumpy.
5. If travelling in Zakarpattia don't be surprised to see your compartment taken over by gypsies (Romanis) on a free ride
6. Smoking on trains is common (especially rural trains)
7. You pay extra for bedding (50 UAH per person). This is sometimes more than the entire train fare. It is not part of the fare unless you ask for it.
8. No bins are provided and if the windows open (a big if) normal behavior seems to be chuck your rubbish out the window
9. Toilets on longer train journeys are stainless steel with a foot pedal to wash. And they are usually pretty clean (if a bit smelly). On local trains you get a hole in the timber floor. Under no circumstances go into a toilet at a rural station- we saw sights to rival Indian toilets.

Toilet block

Toilet inside toilet block (thankfully this one was clean)

10. Seats range from rock-hard timber benches to very hard padded benches. Bring a pillow!

Looks more comfortable than it really is

11. How do they get the inside of the train colder than the outside temperature?
12. Walking across the train lines is completely normal. Some stations don't even have a platform.
13. Most stations are interesting in their own way. Some must have been something special in their day. Uzhgorod station even had a massive fountain inside the station which probably was impressive years ago when the water ran.


14. Train stations are at least 10 times the size they need to be.

Very long platform at small town station.

The enormous and very impressive Kiev station "vokzal"

15. For some reason the train does not use the perfectly good platform, instead stopping a couple of lines accross where there is no platform.

Station has perfectly good platform.

Where we got off.

On the plus side:

16. Trains are extremely cheap
17. There is little difference in the fares for 1st,2nd,3rd class. That's because there is little difference in what you get. But 1st or 2nd class is good if you want a bit of privacy.
18. Maybe it was just our journeys, but the trains were mostly empty. On one long journey, we had an entire 3rd class carriage almost for ourselves. On another, we had the whole 2nd class compartment to ourselves (after we dispatched the Gypsies).
19. The UZ Mobile App (and web site) works well for purchasing tickets on line. But only for long distance trains. For local trains you can use http://poizdato.net/ (Ukrainian and Russian, no English, but easy to use if you know your Cyrillic).
20. Trains go all over Ukraine but sometimes not frequently (once a day) but sometimes the times are not friendly (3am departure, 1am arrival)
21. The train toilets on long distance trains are usually basic but clean. They usually flush, with a foot pedal, out onto the track (environmental movement hasn't made it to Ukraine- see point 8 above). Often you get lucky with toilet paper and soap.


Small town stations.

Posted by MikeinCairns 01:46 Archived in Ukraine

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