Now one can get from Vitebsk to Minsk and back in just three hours: on 8 December, business-class high-speed diesel trains started to run between the two cities.
TUT.BY journalists joined first passengers to find out whether they liked the new train and service there.
Trains between the capital and the northern city run daily in both directions. Journeys are three times a day in both directions – in the morning, afternoon and evening. Travel time (703B / 704B) is exactly 3 hours (it’s half an hour less than the already running Vitebsk-Minsk fast train), the other two last for 3 hours 13 minutes and 3 hours 16 minutes.
The train can reach speeds of up to 140 kilometres an hour. The fastest express trains go non-stop, others have stops in Bogushevsk, Orsha, Tolochin and Borisov. New diesel trains are Polish, there are six cars that can accommodate up to 290 passengers: 18 seats in the second car belong of the first class, the rest 272 seats are of the second class.
“All the cars were jam-packed. Almost everyone had bulky luggage. And the problem is that there was nowhere to put it. Top shelves were full, people had to put their bags near the feet. It was uncomfortable. The passengers — many travelling with laptops and other gadgets — were unhappy with unstable Wi-Fi: the connection was cut every now and then.”
As of 12 December 2019, first-class passengers should be ready to pay 19,2 BYN, which is about $9 or €8, those travelling second-class – 13,86 BYN $7 or €6. According to the photo reporter, the morning train was approximately 60–70% full. Many passengers slept the whole way, some complained about little room for legs, others were unhappy with Wi-Fi.
“It’s great that these express trains were launched. They have a convenient schedule and travel time. Still, there are some details, albeit small ones, but disappointing. Little space for luggage and inconveniently located hooks for clothes. If a passenger hangs a coat or jacket there, it hangs over his head and closes the view from the window,” Svetlana, who goes to Minsk, says.
However, the woman notes that she liked that one can enter a car by pressing a button. “The boarding itself is very convenient, there’s a folding step. Also, there are vacuum toilets. All in all, it’s a great train. We finally got closer to civilization,” she sums up.
Schedule of new diesel trains:
No. 703Б / 704Б (through Orsha)
Vitebsk – 6.33 am – Minsk – 9.33 am
Minsk – 3.15 pm – Vitebsk – 6.16 pm
No. 711Б / 712Б (through Orsha)
Vitebsk – 7.08 pm – Minsk – 10.21 pm
Minsk – 6.45 am – Vitebsk – 10.09 am
No. 713Б / 714Б (through Orsha)
Vitebsk – 3.57 pm – Minsk – 7.13 pm
Minsk – 7.52 pm – Vitebsk – 11.08 pm