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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New St. Pete Fast Train Hits Tracks on Sunday

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Want to travel to St. Petersburg in just over four hours, but not by plane? Starting Sunday, you will have your chance on new high-speed trains connecting Moscow to the northern capital.

Launched by High-Speed Railway, or VSM, the first train will leave St. Petersburg on Sunday at 6:55 a.m. and will complete the 650-kilometer journey in 4 1/2 hours. An upgraded 10-carriage R-200 train will be able to achieve speeds of up to 200 kilometers per hour.

The trains will depart from St. Petersburg at 6:55 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. High-speed trains will leave Moscow twice a day at 7:25 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

"This way the majority of businesspeople will be able to use this service to make a one-day round trip," Valery Shatayev, head of passenger railways at the Railways Ministry, said Thursday.

Eight carriages will carry some 400 people and there will be two dining cars. The ticket price will be 190 rubles ($6.80) for a seat on a one-way trip. The cheapest one-way seat costs about 65 rubles while the cheapest third-class sleeper ticket is 120 rubles.

Shatayev said at a news conference that the 190-ruble fare will cover 52 percent to 56 percent of the cost of the service. The rest is subsidized by the state.

The cheapest one-way plane ticket to St. Petersburg costs some 1,505 rubles or 2,405 rubles for a round-trip ticket. It takes one hour and 10 minutes to fly, but with travel time to Sheremetyevo and Pulkovo airports and check in and boarding time, it adds up to around four hours.

VSM was started in 1992 to handle a $5 billion project to construct a high-speed 654-kilometer rail line between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The trains would reduce travel time on the route to 2 1/2 hours from the current 5 1/2 hours to 8 1/2 hours.

The project had been frozen since the 1998 financial crisis.