Accommodation in Trans-Siberian Trains
1-st and 2-nd class sleepers
Most of Russian high-quality trains as well as Mongolian international trains have 2 classes of sleeping cars. 1-st class sleepers also know in Russian as “lyuxe” (standing for luxury) or “SV” (standing for sleeping wagon) have 2 berths per cabin. Cabins, in turn, are separated from the hallway by the sliding door. Each 1-st class car has 9 cabins with 18 people in total.
Cabins in the 2-nd class (known as “kupe” in Russian) are exactly of the same size as in 1-st class, but with two upper sleeping berths. Regular 2-nd class car has 9 cabins with 4 berths in each making it 36 people maximum capacity of the car. Berths in both classes are enough in size for an average person to comfortably sleep at. Linens are always provided and included into train ticket price.
Basically, travelers in the 1-st class enjoy twice as much of comfort and space with 2 people instead of 4 in the same-size compartment. However, train fares are almost twice as much. 1-st class train fare is normally way above regular airfares for the same route and can be compared only to business class air tickets.
There is also 3-rd class or so-called “platzkartniy” carriage in many Russian internal trains. It is an open space dormitory type of carriage mostly used by locals traveling short distances and sometimes foreign budget travelers, i.e. students and backpackers.
Unlike all Russian and Mongolian trains, Chinese train 3/4 actually has two different types of 1-st class carriages. The first one called “Deluxe cabin” has 2 berths in it and a bathroom with toilet and shower shared between two adjacent compartments. This is a truly luxury 1-st class for the ones who can afford paying for it. Second type of the 1-st class named “Soft sleeper” has 4 berths per compartment. This one is not very different from the 2-nd class 4-berth cabin called “Hard sleeper” except for somewhat softer and bigger beds.
There are two bathrooms with toilet and handwash sink in each train car. Bathrooms are located at both ends of the carriage. Two car attendants working on shifts are in charge of keeping the bathrooms clean throughout the whole journey. Normally they perform their job quite well especially in Russian “firmenniy” trains. Although, bathrooms in the 1-st class are obviously cleaner since those are used by twice less number of people.
Some “firmenniy” trains, e.g. “Baikal”, have so-called headquarters car where one can take a shower in a special shower cabin and iron his clothes (both is provided for an extra charge). Again, Chinese train 3/4 running from Moscow to Beijing is the only train on the Trans-Siberian railway having showers en-suite, yet for the 1-st class travelers only.