Nesterovsky train: a cheap way to get to Vilnius without breaking the law
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, a member state of the European Union. From Vilnius airport you can literally for a penny to fly to other European countries with WizzAir low-cost airlines , so the city is popular with independent travelers…
Nesterovsky train: a cheap way to get to Vilnius without breaking the law
However, Lithuania itself is worthy of attention: there are very beautiful landscapes and architecture, low prices, and still preserved the national flavor.
Flights to Vilnius are quite expensive: a ticket for one person will cost 10000-12000 rubles with a turnover. Economical tourists get to the capital of Lithuania on the company train “amber”, which is sent daily from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Kaliningrad and goes through Belarus and Lithuania. The most economical tourists do not buy a ticket to Vilnius, and to Chernyshevsky – the first station in the Kaliningrad region after the Lithuanian-Russian border. Previously, the first Russian station outside Lithuania on the way to Kaliningrad was Nesterov – that is why the train is called “Nesterovsky”. Now it stops only the train from Adler, which runs 3-4 times a week. Its passengers can also use the lifehack and get out in Vilnius.
The passenger, who thus saves on tickets, are not breaking the law: according to the order of JSC “RZD” № FPDP-03/347, to improve the quality of service of passengers boarding and disembarking passengers at any station on the route after the station of departure shown on the ticket, subject to the expiry date of the ticket and fare collection on the route.
Route “nesterovskoe” train
But in order to get out of the train in Vilnius, it is necessary to have an open Schengen. Keep in mind that the Lithuanian Schengen ticket to Chernyshevsky is not easy to get. In addition, the Consulate of Lithuania often issues visas to Russians strictly under the date of travel, despite the good visa history.
“Nesterovsky” train – a long-known life hack, and in the vast Network is often found information that a ticket to Kaliningrad can not be bought on the official website of Russian Railways – only at the box office of the railway stations. But since 2017, tickets for “amber” can be issued online.
If you buy a ticket from Moscow to Vilnius, the fare in a compartment will cost 7500-8000 rubles, in a second-class carriage – about 4000 rubles one way per person. Since the tariffs for domestic transportation are significantly lower than for international ones, buying a ticket to Chernyshevsky saves twice: travel in a compartment will cost about 3,500 rubles, in a second-class carriage – about 2,000 rubles. Ticket prices from Chernyshevsky to Moscow are 200-300 rubles higher. It is better to buy a ticket with a turnover.
When you make a ticket to the Kaliningrad region on the website you need to specify the data of a valid passport and mark the item “The passenger has a document for transit”. Those passengers who travel to the Kaliningrad region without an open Schengen visa, issue a simplified transit document allowing travel through the territory of Lithuania, but it is impossible to leave the train before crossing the border with Russia.
If you do not trust Internet resources and prefer to buy tickets at the box office, be prepared for rudeness on the part of Russian Railways employees. They know that travelers who buy a ticket to Chernyshevsky, go to Vilnius, and do not welcome this way of saving. To “lifehackers” abandoned the original plans and still overpaid for the ticket, the staff of Russian Railways wrote a legend. According to them, the loophole was closed: allegedly now conductors strictly check tickets and don’t let out in Vilnius those who goes to Chernyshevsky. If you are forced to buy a ticket to Vilnius twice as expensive, refer to the Indication of JSC “Russian Railways” № FPDOP-03/347, mentioned above.
Departure from Moscow
Firm train “amber” from Kaliningrad, departs daily from the Belarusian station at 17:24. The train is very comfortable: after updating the shelves in the second-class cars were replaced by soft and equipped with each section sockets, and the compartment was decorated with paintings of natural amber.
E-tickets issued on the website, the conductor does not have to show – enough passport. The conductor also checks for a Schengen visa or a simplified document for transit. If you are going to go out in Vilnius, warn about it at once: the conductor will note it at himself. Unlike employees of Russian Railways, selling tickets at the box office, the conductors do not ask too many questions and do not ask why the passenger did not buy a ticket to Vilnius: in each car goes a few of these lifehackers.
Russia and Belarus are members of the Customs Union, so the border guards do not walk on cars on the Russian-Belarusian border. Documents and baggage are checked only at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.
At 04:53 the train from Moscow stops at the Belarusian border station Gudogai. First, customs officers enter the car. The conductor informs them in advance about the passengers who leave Vilnius. Customs officers will ask for what purpose you are going to Vilnius, if you are carrying prohibited items, as well as how much Euro you have with you in cash. Passenger funds are of interest to customs officers due to the fact that the amount of more than 10,000 euros is subject to Declaration. Inspection of things is carried out selectively, and if you are traveling with a SLR camera, customs officers can check it. Passport and visa they do not need to show.
After some time the customs officers come out, come guards. They are not interested in tickets – you only need to show your passport. Without asking questions, the border guard quickly flips through the pages and puts a mark on the departure from Belarus.
The train stops at 05:52 Moscow time in the Lithuanian border town of Kian. As in Belarus, to train first, go customs, which the guide also tells you which of the passengers out in Vilnius. Customs officers ask about the purpose of the trip and selectively inspect the Luggage. Women traveling alone are not recommended to apply bright make-up – there may be additional questions. If you want to see that Lithuania and the detail that you are interested in Trakai castle, a traditional fair Kaziukas (held annually the first weekend in March) or the ethnographic Museum Rumsiskes, customs officers will be loyal to you and maybe won’t even inspect things. Don’t be afraid of the language barrier: customs officers speak to passengers in Russian.
After customs control in the car go border guards. They check passports and visas – they are not interested in tickets. In addition, they do not care what country issued you a visa and whether you managed to comply with the “first entry rule”, which tell a lot of scary stories on tourist forums. The main thing is that the visa is valid until the end of your stay in the country. After checking the documents, the border guards will put a stamp on entry to Lithuania. Keep in mind that no one asks for health insurance. If you think that you do not need it – do not make out.
Arrival in Vilnius
The train arrives at Vilnius station at 7:24 Moscow time. Summer time in Lithuania coincides with Moscow, winter – an hour less. Passengers who have to leave in Vilnius, the conductor warns half an hour.
The train stops at the farthest platform, no iron fence there. Conductors open doors in all cars and release passengers – including those who have tickets to Chernyshevsky.
All passengers who left the train, go down to the underground passage, where the passport control booth. Here only check the visa and stamp of entry – train tickets, hotel reservations and a detailed travel route is not necessary to show. The queue moves very quickly, no questions are asked to tourists who arrived in Vilnius by train. The presence of health insurance is not checked.
The underground passage after passport control leads to the station building. Before going to the city you can drink cheap coffee or hot tea, relax in an easy chair and even read – in the middle of the waiting room is a rack of books in Lithuanian, English and Russian. Open Wi-Fi is available at Vilnius train station, but it is not possible to connect to it.
If you do not have time to see the address of your hotel or the route of public transport in advance, and mobile Internet in roaming seems too expensive to you, go to McDonald’s or to the supermarket “IKI”, which are across the road from the station building. It has free open Wi-Fi with good signal.
Near the station there are several public transport stops – you can go anywhere in the city. There is also a small kiosk (opens at 8:00) where you can buy a ticket for a few days.
If you do not plan to stay in Vilnius, you can immediately go to the airport by bus №1. And across the street from the station is the international bus station, where buses go to other European countries.
Passport control on the way back
The way back from Vilnius scares budget travelers no less: in preparation for the trip, many read stories about how someone was not allowed on the train, and even fined. But on the way back also has a Policy of JSC “RZD” № FPDP-03/347, to allow the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers at any station on the route after the station of departure shown on the ticket. Therefore, if you bought a ticket from Chernyshevsky, you can safely take a train with him in Vilnius.
Passport control is at the end of the same underpass behind the door on the photocell. There is also a scoreboard with the schedule of international trains.
At passport control when departing from Vilnius, you need to show not only your passport, but also your ticket. Here again, do not ask why a tourist with a ticket from Chernyshevsky suddenly found himself in Vilnius. The controller does not put a stamp – it will make the border guard on the train.
Departure from Vilnius