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BARGAIN CORNER

New Russian, CzechoSlovak Rail Passes

April 18, 1993|JACK ADLER

The new Russian Flexipass, introduced this month, gives travelers the same flexibility for rail travel in the former republics of the Soviet Union that they have with the popular Eurailpass.

The Flexipass covers major routes within Russia and the neighboring countries of the former Soviet Republics, as well as the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. This pass, as well as point-to-point rail transportation within Russia, is being sold in the United States by Rail Europe, which represents Russian National Railways.

The pass allows a choice of any four days of unlimited rail travel during a 15-day period, which begins with the first use of the pass. Cost of the pass is $298 for first-class travel, $198 for second class. Reserved seats on a particular train, which cost $20 per journey, must be arranged in the United States.

Major routes in Russia include Moscow-St. Petersburg and the Trans-Siberian journey from Moscow to Vladivostok, which includes stops at Kirov, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and Khabarovsk. Other routes are Moscow to Kiev, Ukraine; Moscow-Minsk, Belarus; St. Petersburg-Vilnius, Lithuania, and St. Petersburg-Kouvola at the Finnish-Russian border.

The pass is a good investment when multi-city rail trips are on the itinerary. By comparison, the regular fare between Moscow and St. Petersburg is $69 first-class, $40 second class; Moscow to Kiev costs $85 first, $45 second.

Extra rail days, which have to be purchased in advance, are $65 for first-class travel, $40 for second class. The Trans-Siberian excursion from Moscow to Vladivostok, for example, takes about eight days, so four extra days would be necessary for this rail trip.

There is also a CzechoSlovak Flexipass now available that is good for unlimited travel in the rail systems of both the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

This pass allows five days of travel during a 15-day period. Travel days don't have to be selected in advance. The pass, only available for first class, costs $59. Regular first-class fare for one-way travel between Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, and Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, is $40. But if travelers are planning to visit several cities within the two nations, the pass can be a money-saver.

Both the Russian Flexipass and CzechoSlovak Flexipass must be purchased in the United States. Contact travel agents or Rail Europe at (800) 438-7245 or (800) 848-7245.

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