Sheremetyevo Train Draws Complaints

MTPassengers waiting on a platform at Sheremetyevo Airport for an express train to take them to Savyolovsky Station.
For Florian Hassel, the Moscow correspondent of German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, using the direct train service from Sheremetyevo Airport to the city center after a stressful trip was not the comfortable ride he had hoped for.

The 35-minute train service to Savyolovsky Station in north-central Moscow was launched on June 10 at a gala ceremony attended by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov and Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin. It was planned to allow air travelers to skip the notorious traffic on Leningradshoye Shosse, one of the city's main arterial highways.

Russian Railways, which runs the service through its subsidiary Aeroexpress, promised that trains would leave from Savyolovsky 24 times per day, at times running a twice-hourly service. But passengers are complaining of long delays.

Hassel said his train from Sheremetyevo had come after a wait of more than one hour, and that he was lucky because there was a five-hour gap in the service from 9 a.m. until early afternoon.

According to a timetable posted at the Sheremetyevo rail terminal, there were only 10 trains scheduled per day, not the promised 24, Hassel said.

"I think the worst thing is to advertise so-called express services when there is a gaping hole of five hours in the schedule," Hassel said. "I was not the only one angry; there are a few others who would have traveled through Domodedovo or Vnukovo but we all came [to Sheremetyevo] to find the service was a nightmare."

He said there was no information about the express train services, forcing passengers to climb upstairs "through a tunnel" to find out for themselves.

For passengers with heavy luggage, using the train services was impossible, Hassel said. "All you see is a steep staircase, without an elevator, so in practical terms you cannot use it," he said.

Unlike similar services at Domodedovo or Vnukovo, when the train arrives at Sheremetyevo its doors remain shut, forcing the passengers to wait outside, often in bad weather, Hassel said.

Hassel said he and a few others had been encouraged by RZD's statements in the media to try the new service.

Armine Guledjian, vice president of Halcyon Advisors, who also tried out the train service Monday, said she waited for a train from 8:54 a.m. to 1:20 p.m.

"I think the terminal is very nice and modern but they need to let people have information about the arrival and departures of trains," Guledjian said.

Anton Galatenko, a spokesman for Aeroexpress, conceded Monday that there were problems with the service, but insisted they were temporary.

"Not all the trains are running at the moment," Galatenko said. "Within the next few days, we'll be in a position to launch other trains. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you exactly when."

Galatenko said Aeroexpress had ordered more trains for the service. "We'll be able to run the scheduled services when we receive those trains," he said.

Currently, Aeroexpress has only four trains running from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Galatenko said. He said the company was aiming to put on enough trains for a round-the-clock service. On its web site, Aeroexpress has touted the services as successful, saying that the services ferried a total of 4,685 passengers in its two days. "Trains are running according to schedule," the company said in a statement posted on its web site Friday.