Anywhere from 4-7 trains operate daily on the 793 km Moscow to Kazan route, depending on the day of the week and the season. Most of these make stops in Murom, Navashino, Sergach, Pilna, Shumerlya, Kanash, Umary, and Zelyony, though the Premium makes only 2 stops, reaching Kazan in just over 11 hours. Many of the trains on this route continue to Siberia and Russia’s Far East, and all make the return trip from Kazan to Moscow.
Most trains in Russia do not accept credit cards and accept cash only in RUB, so be prepared with enough for your trip.
Trains on the Moscow - Kazan route do have a dining car, with meals generally costing $5-$20. Meal options vary by train and change periodically, so you could have to consult the menu on your train. And though they usually offer a wide variety of dishes, there would likely be few vegetarian options.
You will need your passport to board. Online tickets do not need to be printed, but pay attention when buying tickets online, as your ticket and passport information must match. Be sure to use your actual passport number when booking.
A private cabin would require buying both tickets for a 1st class cabin, or all 4 tickets of a 2nd class cabin.
The Moscow - Kazan Railway was established in 1860 to connect the capital of Russia, Moscow, with the city of Saratov, an important river port on the Volga River. Despite being owned by future Tsar Alexander III and his brothers, the railway's investors went bankrupt.
The railway was completed in 1862 as far as Kolomna and then Ryazan a decade later. In 1894, the company became the Moscow - Kazan railway, reaching Kazan three decades later. These new railroads helped supply vital materials such as bread from the south and timber from the east to Moscow.
During the Civil War, half of Moscow's trains were out of action. This caused significant delays for passengers and freight, so on Saturday night of April 12th, 1919, fifteen workers from the Moscow - Kazan railway met to repair three engines starting the tradition of the “subbotnik”.
In May 1920, the Bolsheviks organized the first communist subbotnik (voluntary work done on Saturday). These workers inspired hundreds of their coworkers to join in the first large cleanup of the railway a month later. They influenced Vladimir Lenin himself, prompting him to write an essay extolling the subbotnik. To repair Russia devastated by revolution and war.
Depending on which Moscow to Kazan train you board, you will arrive at distinct stations along the route. Murom and Kazan are the two principal stops.
This little town is one of Russia's oldest settlements. For the first time in the middle-ninth century, it was mentioned as the easternmost settlement of the East Slavs and a part of Finnic Muromians' territory (the city gets its name from this ethnicity). Although nothing from those ancient times remains, Murom still has many medieval monuments, including Annunciation Monastery, Transfiguration Monastery, Holy Trinity Convent, and Temple of Kosmas and Damian (the city's oldest structure dating from 1565).
Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, was founded in 1005 as the country's seat of government. It is home to one of Russia's most distinct and fascinating cities. The UNESCO-protected Kazan Kremlin is the main tourist draw, symbolizing the city's mixing of Tatar and Russian cultures: the sky-blue and white Kul-Sharif Mosque and Annunciation Cathedral are within its walls. Other attractions include the Museum of 1000 Years of Kazan, the colorful Temple of All Religions, Old Tatar Settlement, and Bauman Street with its lively shops.
Get ready to be whisked along on a smooth and magical ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway.