Airport Links

There are three dedicated airport to city rail links comparable to Heathrow Express which take about 45 mins. The fare is about £5 with tickets available from a staffed ticket office and machines. These all run into main line stations but add on metro tickets provide integrated travel. Wide ticket gates that default to staying open are used at the airport end only, walk off at the city end.
[Moscow]Main line Airport Express ticket clearly showing transfer availability to other modes (eg tram, bus) by pictogram.   Photo by Ian Brown for Railfuture
Main line Airport Express ticket clearly showing transfer availability to other modes (eg tram, bus) by pictogram

 High platform platforms have been built (only for the dedicated airport services) allowing wheelchair access, Refurbished trains with comfortable seating and loads of luggage space. Business class with drinks and snacks, standard with trolley service.

This compares well with any dedicated airport rail link, cheaper if slower and much better city interchange than for example Heathrow Express at Paddington.

Moscow Metro

Despite being an ultimate mass people moving machine with a standard 44 8 or 10 car trains per hour this must be one of the easiest to use and best designed systems in the world from a passenger point of view. The flat fare is 50 Roubles (50p) with single, two trip plus a range of stored value tickets available from staffed ticket offices and machines. Barrier control is on entry only and the gate shows the number of journeys left on the ticket. All Metro stations have security arches, at least five police on stations and pairs of police on many trains. This seemed surprisingly unintimidating with the consequence that there was no evidence of undesirable behaviour on the system.
[Moscow]Moscow metro single journey ticket showing transfer availability, within 90 minutes, by pictogram.  Photo by Ian Brown for Railfuture
Moscow metro single journey ticket also showing transfer availability, within 90 minutes, by pictogram

[Moscow]Moscow stored value ticket with picture of the system for use on all modes for up to 100 rides.   Photo by Ian Brown for Railfuture
Moscow stored value ticket with picture of the system for use on all modes for up to 100 rides

The network is a series of cross city lines plus a circle line serving most of the 9 main line stations, similar in concept top London’s Circle line but with 44 trains per hour. A second outer circle is under construction. The station design is a wide island with access to the boarding platform from the length of the train. Street entrances are at each end giving in effect two destinations for each large station via very long but well maintained escalators. There is therefore no clutter on the central corridor as access is at each end.

The ‘political’ art on the stations is a delight and kept in perfect condition.

Wayfinding is excellent in terms of interchange but less obvious as to the line and station you are actually on. Confusingly many interchanges with three lines have a different names for each depending on the line served, despite direct interchange. The lines have colours to identify them and numbers. All stations and trains have free WiFi.

There is no provision for disability access and owing to the original design of the system with deep stations and no lifts no attempt appears to have been made to adapt the system.

Timed transfers to tram and bus are available from 90 minutes from entering the Metro gate.

Moscow Trams

The tram network had been cut back over the years (but now expanding again) and does not operate in the city centre. This is still an extensive network outside the centre increasing the utility of the Metro by providing connecting routes and transfers. The fare structure is the same with a turn stile to enter the tram using your smart card. You can still pay the driver, but nobody seemed to do this as the fare is higher.

There were three types of trams in use, the old Russian style high floor vehicles with no disabled access and a larger fleet of more modern (5-15 years old) vehicles also high floor with no disabled access. The few very latest vehicles are part low floor but not in evidence.

Whereas the Metro is for speedy transport, the nice warm trams are a great way of seeing more of the city.

Moscow Monorail

Every country seems to have flirted with a Monorail, Moscow being no exception. There is one short line that had a premium fare now replaced by the standard tariff and free transfers. Unlike everything else, it has lifts for accessibility. This must be about the crankiest slowest public transport system around, far slower than the trams running beneath it and is due to be replaced.

Suburban Rail

Moscow also has quite a large suburban rail system radiating from the main line stations situated around the orbital metro circle line. There are some barriers but like in Britain there is some way to go before the systems are truly integrated. There are many integrated season type tickets of course. The suburban trains looked rather spartan Soviet style but perfectly serviceable and well used, as similar to Berlin in particular, much of the wealthier housing is outside the city and the reach of the Metro. The result is that despite one of the best metro systems in the world, car (now almost all western models) still dominates for these types of trips with fast 4 lane roads right into the centre of the city, impossible to cross except when told to do so at traffic lights.

Main Line Rail

Russia still relies on long distance rail for internal traffic with 9 large stations serving routes out along individual geographic axes. Security is high with full arch and baggage scanning required to enter the station. This also applies to inward arriving trains with long slow queues to enter the station from the train. Interestingly this is to protect the station concourse against terrorism as it was quite possible to get from platform to street round the side avoiding this.

Facilities on the stations appeared good with plenty of ticket office positions available.
Although Pekin (as written for Beijing) on a departure board did look a little incongruous, it is clear that long distance rail has a role to play for some time, given the number of smaller cities in Russia. However an hour looking through the window at the airport suggests that those people with smart Western cars are turning to air travel.


Moscow is a great and surprisingly friendly city to visit and travel around. Transport integration has been addressed well with like Britain national rail joining the party last, but accessibility issues have not.