Ukraine - General Information
National Railway System
Українські Залізниці [УЗ] (Ukrainski Zaliznytsi [UZ])
www.uz.gov.ua (in Ukrainian and Russian)
Ukrainian and Russian are officially recognised. Both are written in Cyrillic characters, but the Ukrainian alphabet includes several characters not used in Russian. This site uses the official Ukrainian (as opposed to the former Russian) geographic names. The Ukrainian National Transliteration (UNT) is used for the transliteration of Ukrainian Cyrillic, as recommended by the Ukrainian authorities.
Railway tickets are normally issued from computer terminals and may be issued in either language, depending on how the passenger requests it.
Hrivna (UAH) = 100 kopeks
numeric 22; alpha UA
A journey planner is available for main line trains on the UZ website.
It is also possible to use the CIS journey planner although this renders Ukrainian names in Russian form, with sometimes strange transliterations such as Harkov for Kharkiv.
For local trains (Elektrychka), each region has its own journey planner:
- Dnipropetrovs’k region
- Donets’k region
- Kharkiv region in Cyrillic only although the page is supposed to be in English
- Kyiv region
- L’viv region
- Odesa region
It is also possible to access the regional journey planners from that for the Kyiv region by using the drop-down list showing “Ukrzaliznica (Ukrain)” to find the required region. The Ukrainian version is somewhat more “complete” than the English one.
The links previously given on the UZ Web site at www.uz.gov.ua/?m=services.transppl.schedule and in English on the unofficial site at www.ts.kiev.ua/kiev/transpor/train/tte.htm no longer work. Any current information would be appreciated by the compilers; please visit Contacts for details of how to send any information to the Guide.
Timetable information for local services (in Cyrillic script) is available as follows:
- Dnipropetrovsk region (individual train prints)
- Donetsk region (individual train prints)
- Kharkiv region (individual train prints)
- Kiev region (route timetables)
- Lviv region (individual train schedules)
- Odessa region (individual train prints)
The following regions also have individual train schedules for long distance services running over their tracks:
The complete public timetable is normally available only to railway staff. Summary printed timetables for main and local trains were sold in the relevant areas in the past, but these may no longer be available. Schedules of stopping services are posted at the stations concerned.
As trains run infrequently, engineering work is usually carried out when no trains are scheduled to run. Major changes may be shown on the home pages of the relevant regions. Major engineering work should be expected in the run-up to the Euro 2012 football championships.
Some information is available for the Lviv region for summer 2011. There are many changes to long distance services owing to ongoing engineering work around Ternopil.
- A comprehensive atlas of the Ukrainian rail network (and that of Belarus) in English and German, which records the evolution of the network and place-names on it, has been published in December 1995 by the Quail Map Co. (Lincoln Rd., Exeter, UK EX4 2DZ (ISBN 1 898319 10 3) but is now out of print.
- Inexpensive plans of major cities at e.g. 1:20,000 (unfortunately lacking urban transport information) are published by the "Kartographia" company - see: www.ukrmap.com.ua.
- Україна атлас залізниць (Ukraina atlas zalisnyts’) from 2008 printed by Картографія (ISBN 978-966-475-082-7).
- www.uz.gov.ua/?m=all.road.mapa, using Cyrillic place-names, is out of date in terms of railway information
- Sections of Dmitry Zinoviev's "Supermap" of the railways of the former USSR. See the hyperlinked English legend for the key to colour-coding and types of line used.
- Thorsten Büker's Map of Ukraine
Broad (1520mm), except for a few standard-gauge links across the western borders. Over the years, many former narrow-gauge lines (750 mm) have been replaced by broad-gauge tracks, but a few with sparse passenger services still remain (Rudnytsia - Haivoron - Holovanivs’k, Vinohradiv-Zak. - Irshava, Antonivka - Zarichne).
3kV dc and 25kV 50Hz. At transition points such as L’viv, Pyatikhatky Stykovaya and Tymkove, the power supply to the catenary is switchable to enable locomotives of through trains to be changed. Some dual-voltage motive-power is available, but single-voltage equipment is still in production.
Rule of the road
Right (but note some sections of track are equipped for running in either direction).
Other public railways
None (note that the industrial railways at mines, steelworks etc. are part of UZ).
As in other parts of the former Soviet Union, several cities in the Ukraine have a public narrow-gauge railway that combines a hobby activity for teenagers with practical training in railway operation. These 'Dyetsky Zelegny Dorogy' (DZD) typically operate on a few km of track in a public park on weekends between 1 May and the start of the new school year. For details, see the Web site (partly in English) railways.id.ru/towns/towns.html.
There are small railway museums located at Kyiv passazhirskyi and behind the main passenger station at Donetsk.
Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dniepropetrovs’k. All networks have plans for further extensions, but implementation of them is hindered by lack of funding.
City networks in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Kryvyi Rih (where there is a separate, partly underground, rapid transit line 11.6 km long), L’viv, Odesa, etc. - see www.lrta.org/world/worldu-z.html#Ukraine.
Recent and future changes
Until the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian railways were an integral part of its broad-gauge network. Since independence in 1991, it has evolved technically and operationally in accordance with the changing national political and economic framework, in which road competition has increased significantly, and some minor rail services have been withdrawn. Nevertheless they remain an important part of the national transport infrastructure, and investment continues, notably in renovating major stations.
The routes carrying the heaviest traffic are already electrified. The first electrification, at 3kV dc, was between Zaporizhia and Kryvyi Rih, in 1935. After 4 years' experience with an initial 23 km route between Kiev and Boyarka, the next stage began in 1954 with electrification of local passenger services around Kiev, and this was followed within a few years by implementation of a plan for extensive main-line electrification, also at 3 kV. Within a decade, however, it became evident that the 25kV 50Hz system was more economical, and this was adopted for all new installations, except where interworking with existing 3kV operation would then be too inconvenient. As the network around Kiev would otherwise be a 3kV 'island' surrounded by 25kV, it was converted to 25kV in October 1967, just before inauguration of through electric haulage between Kiev and Moscow. Recently, the highest priority has been to complete electrification of major through routes, notably that between Kyiv and Kharkiv via Myrhorod and Poltava.
Although Pravda reported on 20 February 2003 that Russia and Ukraine were going to build a railway tunnel under the Kerch strait, linking the Black and Azov seas, the project seems to be moribund as at 2012.
In the context of the EU "Tacis" programme, various studies are being made of possible trans-European routes consisting of new or upgraded railway infrastructure between Sankt-Peterburg and Odesa.
Electrification of Poltava - Kremenchug was completed in 2011 and of Poltava – Lozova at the start of 2012.
Larha – Sokyriany – Ocniţa (Moldova) and Vynnitsia – Ziatkivtsi – Haivoron lost their long distance services at the timetable change on 28 May 2012, although the former retains a local service.
The Ukrainian railway network UZ consists of six regional divisions: Lvivska (Western part of Ukraine), Pivdenno-Zakhidna (Central and Northern part), Odes'ka (Southern part), Pivdenna (North-East part), Donetska (Eastern part) and Prydniprovska (South-East part). Trackside signs indicate divisional boundaries, and some services on cross country routes now terminate at the Regional boundary towns, reducing through journey opportunities.
In 2000 UZ transported a total of 498.7 million people over 141.1 billion passenger-km (1999: 486.8 million passengers and 130.4 billion passenger-km). They also hauled a total of 472.2 billion tonne-km of freight (1999: 428.3 billion tonne-km).
Passenger services on the Ukrainian railway network are either local or long distance. In principle, three classes of accommodation are available on long distance trains:
- “platskarts”: equivalent to 3rd class; open carriages
- “kupe”: equivalent to 2nd class; compartments for 4 people
- “spalny vagon”: equivalent to 1st class; compartments for 2 people
Local services centred on major cities are operated with EMUs (typically hard class only) and run relatively frequently during business hours, stopping at most or all stations and halts en route. As reservations are neither required nor available for travel by them, they have separate ticket offices (and indeed, separate platforms at major stations).
Long-distance services within the broad-gauge area consist of several coaches, which can be converted into sleeping accommodation for use overnight, and hauled by locomotives. Advance reservation is required for all travel by these trains.
International passenger services using through sleeping coaches whose bogies are replaced at the border station run overnight between major stations in the Ukraine and Warsaw, Berlin, Budapest etc. The first UZ and PKP sleeping coaches equipped with variable-gauge axles have been running three times a week between Kyiv and Krakow since 14 December 2003; the time taken by the transition (at Mostys’ka2) is about 3 hours less than that required to replace the bogies.
Information on rail travel : see "Russia by rail, with Belarus & Ukraine," by Athol Yates, Bradt Publications, 1996, ISBN 0-7627-0008-4.
Other General Information
Useful Terminology and Abbreviations
z.p. [zupynnyi punkt; "зупинний пункт" in Ukrainian] and o.p. [ostanovochniy punkt; "oстановочный пункт" in Russian] mean "halt" - in terms of a station.
rzd. [roz'ïzd; "роз'їзд" in Ukrainian, or raziezd; "разъезд" in Russian] means "passing loop".
Note that these abbreviations are always written in lower case.
Passenger train classification and numbering
Throughout the broad-gauge network of the former Soviet Union, long-distance passenger trains are numbered in the range below 1000, in many cases followed by a letter. The most important trains are numbered below 100. In principle, each train whose destination is to the south and/or west of its origin bears an odd number; the corresponding return working bears the following even number. Note that some run only on alternate days (always odd or even dates at a particular station en route). The schedule for each can be consulted on-line by entering the train number. Local passenger trains are generally numbered in the 6xxx range.
It was reported in January 2012 that UZ is introducing a new system of train classification:
- IC+ : trains between 90-200 kph, 1st + 2nd class
- IC : trains between 80-160 kph, 1st + 2nd (+ 3rd class)
- RE : trains between 70-140 kph, (1st) + 2nd + 3rd class
- R : trains between 50-140 kph, 2nd + 3rd class
- NE : trains between 70-200 kph, RIC, luxury sleeping cars, coupe
- NF : trains between 50-140 kph, sleeping cars, coupe
- NP : trains between 50-140 kph, (sleeping cars), coupe
- S : Suburban train
- C : City train
Many of the trackside features found elsewhere (gradient boards, speed limits...) are absent on UZ. And the names of all but the most important stations appear only once, typically on the facade of the main building. Only a few major stations have pedestrian subways; elsewhere passengers must cross the tracks on the level (taking care to avoid trains). Note that:
- Kilometer posts bear two consecutive figures (the lower on the side nearest "0"); on some main routes they show the distance from the corresponding terminus in Moscow (eg about 1750 km near Tchop).
- The name of each noteworthy river is shown on a blue board situated a few metres before a bridge over it.