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How to travel by electric train (“elektrichka”)


Suburban trains taking passengers from Moscow's railway stations to the cities and villages of the Moscow region and back again are as well known to the capital's dacha residents as to the majority of the inhabitants of Moscow region. Tourists do not use them as often, which is a shame because sometimes the commuter train is faster and more convenient than the bus, metro or even taxi. 

The other name for electric trains is “suburban commuter train”. But it is sometimes most convenient to use precisely these trains to get around within Moscow. For example, Losinoostrovskaya Station and Los (on the Yaroslavl route), Frezer and Kosino (on the Kazan route) are located far from the metro and traffic jams make getting there by overland public transport or taxis difficult.

During warm times of the year it is more convenient to go by electric train to travel out of the city on Saturday mornings, since the city’s exits during this season are blocked by huge traffic jams. The same applies when returning to Moscow from the suburbs on Sunday evening. Of course the electric trains at that time are also crammed with people, but at least they go according to a timetable whereas a 20 kilometre journey on the highway can easily take a couple of hours.

The electric train timetable can be found on the internet as well as directly at the station. The timetable is generally followed, however it is worth being careful as every day there are certainly a couple of temporary changes made to cancel trains or alter departure times. Changes are announced at the information stand next to the timetable, so one needs to look very carefully.

You get to the station’s commuter trains platform by presenting a ticket at the special turnstile. Be careful! When leaving the station (at least within Moscow) a similar turnstile awaits you, which again can only be passed with the help of a ticket. So save your tickets until the end of your journey.

When planning to go by electric train to see friends at the dacha or some other interesting place in Moscow region, remember that firstly, electric trains stop going earlier than metro trains and secondly, the further away the station is, the longer the interval between trains. Be sure to acquaint yourself with the timetable in advance and do not plan to return too late in the evening. If you have decided to take advantage of the electric train for travel within the city or in the near suburbs, it is not necessary to find the timetable in advance because in the city and near suburban zone it is unlikely that you will need to wait for an electric train for more than 10-12 minutes.

Ticket offices are sometimes closed at some small stations relatively far from Moscow due to a lack of cashiers. Do not worry. The conductors who check tickets on electric trains know about this and, when told the name of the departure station, will simply print you a ticket and charge the official price. And if you do not come across a conductor you can buy a ticket at the ticket office on the platform at the arrival station, even if only to use it to successfully exit to the city.