On 24 January at the railway station in Nice (France), an event was held dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the opening of rail travel between Russia and France. It was attended by President of Russian Railways and UIC Chairman Vladimir Yakunin, President of SNCF Guillaume Pepy, Vice President of Russian Railways and General Director of the Federal Passenger Company (FPC) Mikhail Akulov, Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi, Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov, Director General of UIC Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, and Chairman of the OSJD Committee Tadeusz Szozda.
“We are grateful to our French colleagues for their partnership, which is not confined to these areas and projects. In this sense, the Moscow-Nice route is symbolic in a good way: it combines the cultural, historical, and economic relationships between our countries,” said Mr Yakunin, delivering his welcome speech at the ceremony.
He also said that the main goal of Russian Railways is the safety of its passengers, as well as the comfort and satisfaction of passengers with the services company.
“In the interest of our passengers, regardless of their nationalities, we will continue to develop our friendly cooperation between railway companies” noted the president of Russian Railways.
In turn, President of SNCF Guillaume Pepy thanked Mr Yakunin for resuming rail traffic between Russia and the French Riviera, as well as Moscow-Nice rolling stock.
According to him, in the period of their cooperation, the companies have been able to strengthen friendly exchanges in various fields, in particular, the exchange of experience and training of young professionals.
Currently, Moscow and Nice are connected by FPC (a subsidiary of Russian Railways in long-distance travel). Renovation of the rolling stock was timed for the anniversary of rail travel between Russia and France.
On 24 January, the first train arrived in Nice with new Reglamento Internazionale delle Carrozze (RIC)-dimension cars. The new cars include eight First Class wide sleeping compartments with double occupancy (two lower beds) and eight Second Class wide sleeping compartments with quad occupancy (two lower and two upper beds). Previously, cars with triple occupancy in a narrow compartment were used.
In every new car there is a shower and the door to the compartment is equipped with an access control system (with the use of smart cards), peepholes, and safety latches. The design of the vestibule of the car offers access to all kinds of platforms, and folding steps provide the convenience of entering on high platforms with broad gauge. The cars are equipped with an electronic board indicating the number of the car and route panels.
As a present for passengers on this ceremonious trip, they were given free internet access and the possibility to watch movies in a Wi-Fi cinema (a portal with multimedia video content showing movies and cartoons). Also, they were able to take part in a lottery. The winners received gift vouchers for French clothing and perfume shops, as well as beauty salons.
The Moscow-Nice train has run since 23 September 2010. Prior to this, the last rail link between Russia and the French Riviera was in tsarist Russia.
The St. Petersburg-Nice route was launched in 1864, after Nice became part of France. Railway travel quickly became so popular that it almost superseded travel by sea. Russian trains were comfortable and beautiful with a high level of service. This train included imperial carriages with unprecedented speed for their time. This popular Russian train ran until 1914.
Today, Moscow-Nice is one of the longest trans-European rail routes. Its length is 3 315 km. The train passes through eight countries: Russia, Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Monaco, and France.
The Moscow-Nice route runs once a week. From Moscow it sets off on Thursdays at 11:18 (Moscow time) and arrives in Nice on Saturdays at 08:35 am (local time). Travel time is 47 h 17 min. From Nice, the train departs on Saturdays at 21:45 (local time) and arrives in Moscow on Monday at 22:30 (Moscow time). Travel time is 46 h 45 min.
The trains travel 200 km/h on 1435-mm-gauge rail (in European countries) and 160 km/h on 1520-mm-gauge (in Russia and Belarus).
There is a change of axles (between the Russian 1520-mm gauge and European 1435-mm gauge) on the border between Belarus and Poland.