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19 Jan, 2008 12:57

Russia launches five-star hotel on wheels

Rail passengers who fancy a bit of luxury now have a new hotel on wheels – the ‘Express’ luxury train between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Popular across Europe and in Asia, it’s the first VIP train run by a state company in Russia.

The route between the nation’s two capitals has always been in high demand for rail travelers, with it accounting for about 40% of all traffic in Russia's North West.

The Express offers the most comfortable rail travel you can get. Its suites have air conditioning, TV, DVD, multiple electricity sockets for all your appliances and even a shower.

Starting from the station in a city at either end, passengers spend around eight hours in 5 star luxury, including the little things air travel can't offer.

“Everyone gets very tired. Travelling by plane is surely convenient but you need to get to the airport, which usually takes a long time, while here you depart and arrive in the city centre,” one of the passengers says.

However, this sort of luxury doesn’t come cheap – one coupe may cost up to $ US 800.

The train is meant for those who appreciate comfort in the first place – businessmen, tourists, both Russian and foreign.

The express train is expected to meet high demand, judging from good reports by privately-owned competitors, already present on the market. The task now is to make VIP railway travel more accessible.

“This type of train marks the beginning of a new level of service, a new era of mass passenger traffic in Russia,” Viktor Stepov, the head of Oktyabrskaya Railway says.

But to keep this era going, the network of the VIP services is to be expanded to follow the country's economic growth.

With an eye to the Sochi Olympics, the next route opened will be to the south of Russia.