CZ/SK verze

High speed rails in Russia

High speed rails in Russia
photo: train
12 / 04 / 2021

We will gradually introduce you to high-speed lines in the Russian Federation. We will mention plans and existing projects. We will bring you an insight into the operation and development of high-speed lines in several Russian regions, we will evaluate technical data and benefits for the entire Russian railway network.

Sapsan: Moscow – Saint Petersburg and Moscow – Kazan

The characteristics of the System

Sapsan trains are dedicated to the Moscow – St. Petersburg (650 km) service, and periodically to Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod (443 km) line. Since the line linking the old and new capitals of Russia is characterised by mostly long, straight sections, due to its location on flat terrain, adaptation to speeds of more than 200 km/h required only the installation of a new signalling system. In addition it was necessary to reduce the number of commuter trains running on the lines, likely extending their travel time due to limited line capacity. The line to Novgorod is a conventional line with a maximum speed of 160 km/h. The plans to launch Sapsan service to Helsinki were eventually abandoned in favour of the Pendolino Allegro trains. The Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod line is no longer served by Sapsan and the express trains to Novgorod are Talgo coaches pulled by standard locomotives. This will change with the upgrade of the line as mentioned in previous sections.

Rolling stock

The Sapsan is a variation of the Siemens ICE3M high-speed train, adapted for use on the RZD network (track gauge, gauge, and adaptation to harsh winter conditions). These are 10-cars units, designed to run on a 1520 mm track, electrified to 3 kV DC or 25 kV 50 Hz, with a maximum speed of 250 km/h. Initially, a total of 60 trains were ordered. In June 2019, a further 13 units were ordered.

 Basic technical parameters of Sapsan trains

Source: Siemens, RZD data

 Sapsan in Nizhny Novgorod station

Source: Marek Graff


Commercial services were launched in December 2009. Sapsan trains between Moscow and St. Petersburg, replaced classic locomotive-driven train sets (with a travel time of 8 – 9 hours or more). The popularity of the new services (nearly 5 million in 2016-2017) has resulted in a significant fall in flights between the two cities.

Travel time from Moscow to St. Petersburg is between 3.30 and 4.04 hours depending on the service. Ticket prices range from 100 USD to more than 200 USD in peak times. The trains operate 12 pairs per day.

On 1 March 2018, the Russian Railways reopened the decommissioned Saint Petersburg – Moscow - Nizhny Novgorod line, which allows for a 8-hour 15-minute through service.

 Allegro: St. Petersburg – Helsinki

The Characteristics of the System

The introduction of the Pendolino Allegro service between Helsinki and St. Petersburg lead to a travel time reduction from 5.5 hours to 3.5 hours also thanks to the modernisation of the line and the construction of new sections. The new Kerava – Lahti line was constructed in Finland with a higher maximum speed of 220 km/h and shorter route. The reconstruction of the Helsinki node also facilitated the operation of high-speed trains. The section from Lahti to Kouvola and then Luumäki was double-tracked and the level crossings were removed, allowing for a higher speed (160-200 km/h) on the section. The Russian sections St. Petersburg – Vyborg (two-track) and Vyborg – Buslovskaya (- border with Finland; single-track) had already been adapted to 160 km/h (for trainsets), thus the increase in speed to 200 km/h (for EMUs) required minimal effort. Due to the virtually identical width of the track in both States, the length of time at the state border is reduced to a minimum. Services began in December 2010.

Rolling stock

The ordered trainsets were manufactured as double-voltage (25 kV 50 Hz, 3 kV DC) seven-car sets, allowing them to move on the VR – 1524 mm, RZD – 1520 mm tracks, with a maximum speed of 220 km/h, with a design similar to those already used on the VR network.

In January 2010, testing began on the Finnish rail network at a maximum speed of 220 km/h. Two trains were also tested by RZD – near St. Petersburg, and on the test track in Shcherbinka near Moscow. Delivery was completed at the end of 2010. The trains are equipped with an electrohydraulic body-tilting mechanism (8°). The trains are designed to operate within the temperature range of –40° C to 40° C.

Basic technical parameters of Allegro trains

 Allegro in Kuovola

Source: Marek Graff


In total, 4 trains were produced for the operator Karelia Trains (VR and RZD), which were split between Finnish and Russian railways (2 + 2).

Pendolino Allegro stops – with the exception of start and end stations - in Lahti, Kouvola (VR) and Vyborg (RZD). The series is assigned to and serviced at Ilmala in Helsinki and Metallostroy in St. Petersburg (together with the Sapsan trains). With the introduction of Pendolino Allegro, conventional day-trains have been withdrawn between Helsinki and St. Petersburg such as Repin (RZD rolling stock) and Sibelius (VR rolling stock). The number of passengers is expected to triple to 600,000 in the coming years.

 Strizh: Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow – Minsk – Warsaw – Berlin

Main characteristics

Strizh trains are locomotive pulled Talgo car trains, some equipped with automatic gauge changing bogies to speed up border crossings

Rolling stock

Talgo 250 cars for RZD are adapted to the GOST standard (the range of – 03-BM), applicable to the RZD or BC rail networks (equivalent to UIC/TSI standards in EU States) and are designed for use in the temperature range of -40˚C – + 40˚C. The total number of seats on the Talgo 250 is 224 (type A) or 410 (type B). The total length of the train is 263.8 m, for a total weight without passengers of 343.1 t.

Strizh train in Warszawa Wschodnia (Warsaw East) station

Source: Marek Graff


The inauguration of Talgo 250 service took place in December 2015 with trains running on the:

-       Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod, 4 trains, running every day (443 km);

-       Moscow – Berlin, 3 trains, running twice a week (1869 km).

Talgo 250 Strizh trains are designed for speeds up to 250 km/h and they are operated at the maximum speed of: 160 - 200 km/h on the RZD, BC network, 160 km/h on the Polish network, and 200 km/h on the German network.

 High-speed train lines in Russia Federation (2019)

Source: Own work