Kursky Rail Terminal
Kursky rail terminal or “Kurskiy vokzal” as we call it, is my personal favorite. I use it all the time to get out of Moscow and visit my wife’s family that lives in the city of Chekhov. Ahhh, I love Chekhov. This cozy, little town sits some 70 kilometers out of Moscow – and it’s sure a good place to visit if you’re planning to see Moscow region.
The city is named after Anton Chekhov, the famous Russian writer – and there’s a good reason for that. Anton Chekhov’s estate is located right outside of town, so if you’re a fan of his famous works – you should definitely try and visit the place. Apart from the estate, you could also visit “Talezh” and gather some fresh spring water that runs right near the beautiful chapel.
There’s no way to get to those beauties without using Kursky vokzal unless you’re planning to drive by car. Be careful, however – Moscow roads require a certain set of skills that not every foreigner has.
If you’re willing to travel outside of Moscow by car, you should surely seek advice of Moscow driver.
Apart from Chekhov, Kursky rail terminal also serves “Tsaritsino” and “Butovo” stations – those are located in Moscow, but you can save a lot of time if you travel by train and not by Moscow metro. If your goal is Moscow region, you can get to the cities of Serpuhov, Podolsk, Tula and Orel. If you’re willing to travel really far, you can get to Kursk, Belgorod and as far as Ukrainian cities of Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk and Krivoy Rog – but that’s gonna be an extreme ride, I tell you right away!
Good old elektrichka...
Whatever destination you choose, I think the best option is to travel by rail. Just buy a ticket to good old “elektrichka” (those commuter trains that run on electricity hence the name), and enjoy the ride. You can sleep, eat, talk by phone – and never worry about all those nasty traffic jams you’d definitely got in if you were driving.
Try to use Kursky rail terminal outside of city’s rush hours. I doubt you’d like to get squeezed in the train without having a chance to sit for the entire trip, right? Instead, get there at, say, 11AM, and safely board the first available elektrichka.
Before you do that, make sure there aren’t any changes in the schedule – “Russian Railroads” love to play with it during the daytime. On the other hand, it’s hard to avoid those because the rails have to be maintained and fixed, and no one is gonna do it when dozens of trains are passing by every morning and evening.
If you think that the regular, green trains aren’t good enough, there are express ones that get as far as the city of Tula, making just a few stops along the way (some including Chekhov). They are surely more expensive, but they are also more comfortable and less crowded. In fact, I would recommend you to ride these – they are much “closer” to what you’re used to see back in your country.
Not much to see on the outside
After all, you, westerners, are all about comfort, while Russian trains were built to serve one function only, and that’s to transport people from point A to point B. Years of communism didn’t really inspire the train constructors to think about the passengers, and that's why comfortable trains have appeared only recently.
But enough about the trains. Let’s look closer at Kusky rail terminal see how it’s built and what makes it “tick”.
The terminal itself is located right outside of Moscow metro station “Kurskaya” (du-h!). In fact, you don’t even have to go out of metro to get to the terminal building, as there’s a nice, convenient passage that connects them.
It’s extremely convenient, especially when you’re carrying a couple of heavy bags. The only problem is not to get lost, as there are two exits from the station itself plus a passage to the adjacent “Chkalovskaya” and another “Kurskaya” that sits on the blue line. You can get to the terminal from both “Kurskaya” stations, but if you end up on “Chkalovskaya” – you’ll have to walk quite a distance to get to Kursky vokzal.
Ahh, it’s a pleasure to walk through Kurskaya these days. About a year ago, the station was renovated, and now it looks exactly like when it was first built. In fact, there even was a small scandal, as the architects restored the verses from old version of Soviet hymn that praised Stalin. Needless to say, human rights activists were not happy to see them.
Learning history with "Kurskaya"
While I don’t want to get into politics, I must say the station itself looks much better than before. Not that Kurskaya wasn’t beautiful, but it was slightly neglected during 80’s and following 90’s due to budget cuts. Now, however, everything is exactly as it should have been – maybe except Stalinist hymn, but that’s just details.
Anyways, if you do everything “by the book”, you will find yourself inside the underground level of Kursky in no time. Be careful, however – once you pass the metro wickets, there’s no going back unless you pay for a ride, so don’t change your mind all of a sudden!
Once you’re on the underground level, the first thing you should do is check the trains schedule. In fact, you should do this a couple of hours before you leave the house, as your train could be cancelled or delayed. Each Moscow rail terminal has a special hotline that allows you to check the status of your trip, but unfortunately it’s only available in Russian.
However, if you have a couple of Russian friends, they will be more than happy to help you out. It’s doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to get through to the operator, so the only problem you may have is the language.
If somehow you didn’t check the status of your train by phone – get to the ticket stalls that are a little bit to the right from the metro exit, and look at one of the pillars that have time tables on them. No, don’t look for computer screens – those are just regular pieces of paper. Again, you’ll need to know the language – there’s no way you’ll be able to get around Kursky rail terminal without speaking any Russian.
Just another Moscow rail terminal
So, once you’re double sure your “elektrichka” is on time, get to the nice lady behind the window, tell her the name of the station you’re going to (like Podolsk or Chekhov), pay for the ticket – et voila, all you have to do is get to the platform and board your train.
Sounds easy, but sometimes we either come too early – or find out the train has been delayed or cancelled. So let’s look what you can do to kill those minutes...
Spending my time....
First of all, you can walk around Kursky terminal. There are plenty of small shops around, where you can buy snacks and drinks in case you’re hungry. If, on the other hand, you’re hungry for news or a dose of pulp fiction – there are several book stalls that will help you out. Spending your time reading some newspaper is not such a bad idea, but I would say there’s a better way to avoid getting bored.
If you get out of the terminal building, you’ll see a big shopping mall right in front of you. That’s the famous “Atrium” – a place where you can spend the time left to departure – and surely enjoy it! There’s lot to tell about “Atrium”, and I even dedicated a whole separate article to it, but trust me on this one – sometimes it’s even better to come a couple of hours earlier!
Why? Because this shopping mall has “everything the body needs” – from shops and cafes to “Karo film” cinema. The cinema is not an option in this case, because it’s not fun to watch a movie with all those heavy bags, but you could surely sit in a cafe until the time comes – or visit my favorite “TGI Friday’s” restaurant.
In general, I would advise you to get to “Atrium” if your train is more than 40 minutes away. You see, Moscow rail terminals aren’t the safest place in the city (although they did get much safer recently), and getting stuck there for more than a small period of time may bring upon you some unwanted guests.
So, in order to avoid the possibly unpleasant situations, get to the mall, spend your time there – and have fun along the way. Once your train is about to arrive – pick up your bags, get across the square to the terminal building and enjoy the ride.
Just be sure you leave “Atrium” at least 15 minutes in advance – the distance may be longer than you think. Plus, you should buy the tickets right after you get to Kurskiy, as there can be unpredictable queues any given moment
If you follow this simple advice, Kursky rail terminal will give you nothing more than a pleasant experience – and unlock the doors to Moscow region and even the entire Russia should you wish to travel this far. As for me – I’ll just be sitting right here, waiting for you to come back for more.