Warsaw - St. Petersburg Railway (Southern Part)

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by reb0118, 13 Oct 2016.

  1. reb0118

    reb0118 Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Next January I've got a weeks annual leave and quite fancy a wee trip on the southern part of the Warsaw to St. Petersburg Railway. Specifically from Warsaw to Białstok (overnight), then Grodno (overnight), bus to Marcinkonys, then finally local train to Vilnius.

    I will be using a FIP free coupon for the Polish element.

    I have a few questions:-

    1)Is it possible to get a ticket from Kuźnica Białostocka to Grodno in advance as I will probably need it to obtain a Belarussian transit visa.

    2) Does anyone have any information about buses from Grodno to the Lithuanian border. Timetables, prices, &c..

    3) Re. the Belarus transit visa. It is valid for 48hrs but is this a strict 48hrs or in reality "two days". I will enter Belarus at 14:30 on a Tuesday and wish to leave Thursday morning. Does anyone have experience of the Belarus visa regime?

    Thanks in advance.
     
    Last edited: 13 Oct 2016
  2. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    If no-one here comes up with the goods, may I suggest posting (in English) on Drehscheibe-online as there seem to be a number of members who are familiar with the area.
     
  3. beermaddavep

    beermaddavep Member

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    https://www.autobusubilietai.lt for bus times out of Grodno into Lithuania.

    Picking a day at random, the only sensible option is the 0900 departure-

    https://www.autobusubilietai.lt/ind...yStopId&travel_from=a4a2533-1&travel_to=689-1
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---


    And to cross from Poland into Belarus--Again, just a random date. PKP website won't sell the tickets, but the ever dependable Polrail will, although not from the border station----

    https://booking.polrail.com/index.p...ialystok&to=Grodno&date=17-01-2017&language=n

    HTH
     
    Last edited: 14 Oct 2016
  4. reb0118

    reb0118 Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Thanks for the replies chaps. I've managed to find times from Grodno to Vilnius via Malosomewhereorother for the Wednesday evening - this will give us three nights there or we may have two in Białystok.

    Still at the planing stage.

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  5. goatie

    goatie Member

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    Bialystok is quite nice but not should what it will be look in the winter
    we went there last summer, but the train service was closed as they were up rating the whole of the line
    not they cheap now we got 7+ zls now its 5+ zls = £
     
  6. Harbornite

    Harbornite Established Member

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  7. Please Explain

    Please Explain Member

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    Regarding the Belarussian transit visa, I can tell you that you will have to go to the consular section of Belarussian Embassy in Kensington Court, (enter downstairs, their open Monday's, Tuesday's, Thursday's and Friday's 09:30-12:30only), with your passport, photograph, supporting travel documents and competed application form for TYPE B VISA Find it here:

    http://uk.mfa.gov.by/en/consular_issues/visas/

    And the processing fee, (note, they only accept euro now as of July). When I made the trip from Kiev - Minsk - Vilnius in December it was £15.
    I think they also do a next day collection fast-track service for an extra fee but their very efficient.
    Be prepared, not all of the staff there speak anglitskii!

    I have to say that I've never heard of someone wanting to transit across Belarus from Poland to Lithuania though. I'd heard of people being refused with no reason given when applying to do what I did from Ukraine to Lithuania, so for me it was very much a jump into the unknown and it certainly was from the minute I boarded the night train at Kiev Pass! Expect very heavy security at the border. These guys certainly don't screw around!
    I believe the TYBE B visa is valid for 48 hours from entry to exit, so for me it was an easy and cheap way to spend a day exploring Minsk, arriving early in the the morning on the night train from Kiev in plastkartny -(that journey was an experience that ill never forget!), and then nearly missing the last train to Vilnius that evening!!

    I didn't have the time to spend a night there as I had a flight to catch from Vilnius back to Glasgow for Christmas but would love to hear your experiences.
    Belarus is a great country and one of the last bastions of old Europe, (have you done the PMR, aka "Transnistria"?!).
    I hope to get back again soon too.
    Do let hs know how you get on and have a great trip!


    Hope this helps, any questions, just ask. :D
     
  8. dutchflyer

    dutchflyer Member

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    As you can also read in that DSO german forum: there are many talks about the Grodno area opening up for visa-free travel, expected some time in next year 2017. Coulkd (initially) be limited to Polish/Lithuanians however. A similar scheme already exists for some wildlife park near Brest.
    In the past the usual route (when it was all CCCP=USSR anyway) from Poland to Leningrad (then) was via Grodno, and for some time after the Baltics became independent it was still so-untill the direct route was opened.
    After that Byelorus even refused to issue transit-visa for that route for some time. it did not make much sense either, as for some years Poland-Lithuania are in the check-free Schengenzone.
     
  9. reb0118

    reb0118 Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Well, that's my application in for a transit visa so just a waiting game. One word of warning as of 1st January all visas for UK citizens are now 60€ for simplification reasons.

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  10. TravelDream

    TravelDream Member

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  11. reb0118

    reb0118 Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Yep, spotted that. If this trip proves successful then we might return.

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  12. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    If you get all the way to St Petersburg there is a spectacular but little known railway museum there, alongside the Baltic railway station (it's on the approach tracks to the old Warsaw station, once alongside, now closed. Use the Metro to get to that station. Must be about 60 locos or more, they seem to have one of everything from Soviet days, steam, diesel and electric. Open air. Here it is on Google Maps

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@59.9046042,30.3070175,192m/data=!3m1!1e3

    Bureaucracy and paperwork are tedious but if complied with you will not have any problems. If they say "up to 10 days" for visas they only count working days, and not the day you hand it in, and they are never even looked at until day 9 - but you will get it on day 10. This approach encourages the more expensive "express" route. Things were ever this way, not only in Soviet days but way back in Czar days as well. A 1914 Continental Bradshaw has a lengthy note about it.
     
    Last edited: 13 Jan 2017
  13. Please Explain

    Please Explain Member

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    That's a pity about them putting the price up for the visa.. Wishing a made another trip during '16 now. :(
    Would have thought it was more tit for tat with the western sanctions against Russia but that certainly is interesting about them opening up for five days if you fly in through Minsk National. Guess their trying to win business for Belavia?! :) Wonder if they still fly to Manchester?
     
  14. reb0118

    reb0118 Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Well, visa was granted. All set.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

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  15. Please Explain

    Please Explain Member

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    Excellent:D have a good trip!
     
  16. reb0118

    reb0118 Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Thank you.

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  17. Please Explain

    Please Explain Member

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    How did you get on out there reb0118?

    Reading over this again got me thinking back to my trip and how I've been meaning to write up a trip report for ages about my time in Belarus and the longer trip it was part of so I've decided to start a travel blog:

    http://le-vauban.blogspot.co.uk/

    I've started off with Belarus and hope to write up more as time permits.

    Hope you all enjoy! :)
     
  18. shredder1

    shredder1 Member

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    Last September, I did Warsaw to Białstok and stayed overnight in the town, then an early train from Białstok to Vilnius on the new standard gauge line that opened last year, I saw trains coming in from St Petersburg at Vilnius, so suppose there is a direct service.
     
  19. Please Explain

    Please Explain Member

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    Yeah, those would be the international transit trains to/from Kaliningrad.
     
  20. mailbyrail

    mailbyrail Member

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    If you enter Belarus on the main Warsaw-Minsk-Moscow route, the railway museum in Brest (at the border) is a must. And if you do stop off there, then the Fortress is another essential visit.
    Not that that is much help on the route via Grodno though
     
  21. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    The old Soviet rail network is surprisingly good for rail museums, which seem to be supported by the rail operators themselves. The St Petersburg one, which has one of pretty much everything steam, diesel and electric from the Soviet era, is a marvellous collection that rivals the NRM at York for content, yet every time I have been there has been deserted apart from the old lady at the ticket booth. Main exhibits are generally just placed outdoors on sidings, but are kept in spotless condition.

    I was last in Vilnius a few years ago, and there is a 2-10-0 displayed across the tracks from the platforms. Here :
     

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  22. reb0118

    reb0118 Established Member Fares Advisor

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    @ Please Explain. Very interesting blog. Thanks for that.

    With regard to my own trip all went smoothly - there was a slight wobble leaving Belarus as the Grenzpolizei were under the impression that we had entered from Lithuania but when it was pointed out that we had in fact entered from Poland all was sorted.

    A wee tip is to actually write that on the migration card to avoid confusion.

    All the trains ran to time and all in all it was a worthwhile experience. According to our host, Grodno is the most open city in Belarus with regard to foreigners but that said there is not a lot of English spoken - even amongst the younger elements.

    Now that all visas are the same price for UK citizens the transit route does not seem so worthwhile so if I return I will take a tourist visa and see a bit more of the country.

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  23. dutchflyer

    dutchflyer Member

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    Somehow I recall, also I think learned from the German DSO-forum, that for short-stop visits (Max 24 hrs?) to Grodno there is also a FREE visa possibility. THis is different and preceded the 5-days free with airline entry. A similar scheme also exists for a national park near Brest, but you do have to show tickets/stamps that you actually did go in it. At least I have seen adverts for 1daytrips out of Kaunas/LIT for them. It was mentioned to be also possible for the ''classic'route PL-stop Grodno/BY, continue to Kaunas (Kauno in polish). Somehow I recall it was for all EU-citizens, so hurry up, Brits for it!
     
  24. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    Is it visa free only if you arrive at Minsk airport or not?
     
  25. Adlington

    Adlington Member

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    You DO NOT need a visa for a max. 5 days' stay if flying to/from Minsk airport.

    The Belorussian embassy in London says:
    UK is included.

    The Foreign Office adds:
     
  26. gordonthemoron

    gordonthemoron Established Member

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    I went to Bialystok in February 2012, -25C, I have never been so cold
     
  27. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    Ah just Minsk Airport , air fares are expensive to Minsk , hopefully visa free coming through the land borders at some stage .
     
  28. Adlington

    Adlington Member

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    Strictly speaking it's already possible, see
    http://grodnovisafree.by/en/how-to-come.html and
    http://bezvizy.npbp.by/en/

    This may be visa-free, but certainly isn't hassle-free.

    As this is a rail forum, here is a relevant quote from the former page:
     

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