Enjoying the clickety-clack of steel wheels on polished rails

Enjoying the clickety-clack of steel wheels on polished rails

Expert Reports  

According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center’s sociological survey, about 23 percent of the Russians are afraid of flying by airplanes. At the same time, over the past 4 years, the number of people suffering from aerophobia has decreased by 10 percent. EcoTourism Expert found out the details of this opinion poll and collected the information about where the Russians can go today using some other ways of travelling.

Based on the survey, women are most susceptible to aerophobia, the number of women who would never step onboard an airplane is about twice as many as the number of men. It’s interesting to note that aerophobia also depends on the level of education as there are fewer aerophobes among graduates of higher educational institutions than among people with lower secondary education.

The Covid-19 pandemic has seriously affected the frequency of flights. Since 2018, only 28 percent of the Russians have travelled by an airplane at least once. Out of those 28 percent, only 8 percent fly rather frequently, they have flown by plane at least four times over the past few years. In general, over the past four years, 71 percent of the Russians have never travelled by air, and 63 percent of them explained that they did not need to fly by air, and another 25 percent said that they could have flown more often if air tickets were not so expensive. Some respondents told that airports were rather far from their place, so flying by plane was not suitable for them.

Nevertheless, according to 85 percent of the respondents, fast travelling compared to other modes of transportation is one of the main criteria for choosing travelling by air. 24 percent of the Russians appreciate good-quality services provided by airlines on board a plane, and 21 percent of the Russians prefer an air travelling for relatively reasonable air ticket prices.

However, in addition to air travelling, it is possible to travel by land, in particular by railway, including going abroad, although it is not possible to go to some much-desired beaches by train, for example, to the Turkish seaside.

So, what are the options offered today to the people travelling abroad by railway?

We would like to tell you that you will be able to visit only the neighbouring countries, with one rather interesting exception. In the Russian Railways’ website (the International Transportation section), only seven routes are available at the moment.

The republic of Belarus is the closest country to Russia, and since the early 1990s, these two countries have been a Union State. You can get to Belarus while travelling both by an ordinary train and by high-speed “Lastochka” (Swallow) trains. But these high-speed trains are not very popular among the travellers as the trip takes 6 hours 50 minutes (compared to 9 hours and 15 minutes by the “Belarus” branded train), but you have to sit all the way as there are no sleeping cars in the “Lastochka’ trains. You can get directly to Brest or Gomel in Belarus, and trains depart from Russia to the neighbouring republic from Moscow, as ell as from St. Petersburg, Murmansk, Adler, Anapa, and even Kaliningrad. There are trains from Kaliningrad to St. Petersburg and Adler with stops in Vitebsk and in Minsk and Orsha, respectively.

The prices are quite reasonable, the tickets for a “Lastochka” train start from 1,000 roubles, and tickets for a compartment car cost about 3.5 thousand roubles.

In summer, trains run daily to Sukhum in Abkhazia. You can go to the warm seaside from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Samara, the trains departure from Samara once in 5 days, and the ticket in a compartment car is about 6 500 roubles, if you depart from the capital of Russia.

Other destinations for aerophobes may be the post-Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Certainly, travelling to these countries is a conscious and rather extravagant choice, however, the routes exist and are quite popular among the Russian tourists.

It is interesting that all these routes have one thing in common - you cannot go to these countries from Moscow, all trains start in various Russian cities. So, for example, you can go to Almaty from Kazan; the trains to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, start from Samara and Novosibirsk; and people can go to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, by a train from Volgograd. You should know that this is a long journey as travelling to these places takes at least 2 days (if you decide to visit Tashkent from Samara, for example). If you decide to go to Almaty from Kazan, your trip takes 2 days and 17 hours one way. The tickets are also costly, on average, they are from 10 to 14 thousand roubles per person in a compartment car.

There is a really a destination abroad offered to the Russian aerophobes who are fond of travelling by railway. This is Mongolia! In this case, you should get to Irkutsk first (there are no problems with railway communication within Russia), and then take a train to get to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. The journey takes less than a day (22 hours 41 minutes) and the ticket price is from 15 thousand roubles (in a sleeping compartment). By the way, you can enter Mongolia without a visa for up to 30 days, but you should have a passport for travelling abroad, of course.