EUROPE: Mikhail Akulov, Director General of RZD’s Federal Passenger Company, was at Moscow Belorussky station on September 23 for the first departure at 16.17 of Train 17, due to arrive in the French city of Nice at 19.12 on September 25. The new service operates once a week in each direction, via Warszawa, Wien, Verona and Milano.

The train is operated with three deluxe sleeping cars accommodating up to 24 passengers, six first class cars with showers offering up to 120 places, and one second class vehicle with 12 berths. Two RZD restaurant cars offering Russian and European cuisine operate as far as the break of gauge at Brest on the Polish border, with two cars leased from PKP running between Warszawa and Nice.

‘The train is departing on its first journey at 90% of capacity, which is a clear success’, said Akulov. ‘The train will pass through the territories of five countries, with a journey time of around 50 hours. By the end of 2011, we aim to cut the journey time to 36 hours’.

Moscow – Nice ticket prices range from €306 in second class up to €1 200 for single occupancy of a deluxe compartment. Specially recruited for the new service, on-train personnel have undergone a training programme including French, English and ‘passenger service culture’, as well as safety regulations for operation on the French railway network.