Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last week inaugurated the new route, the first such link to cross the former Iron Curtain. With top speeds of 140 miles per hour, the new Allegro train shrinks the 250-mile journey from five-and-a-half hours to about three-and-a-half hours.
Round-trip fares sold by Rail Europe, (800) 622-8600, which markets the tickets to U.S. customers, start at $209 in second class and $322 in first class, which includes a newspaper, snack and coffee or tea. You can reserve up to two months in advance.
Engineers for the new service, a joint venture between VR Group (Finnish Railways) and Russian Railways, faced a number of challenges. They had to design the new locomotives and cars to cope with system incompatibilities between the two countries on signals, electrical current and even platform height.