Russian Time Zones

Understanding Time Zones across Russia

Quoting railway aficionado Matthew Woodward……

“Getting anyone to agree on what is the right time of day can become a frequent debate on the Trans-Siberian. It charts not just a simple measure of your progress, but what you get to see in daylight and what you thunder past in the darkness of the Siberian night. But what actually constitutes the right time on board the train? The answer is interesting from both from a historic and a practical point of view.

Stopping off the train to see local life is much more rewarding by the daylight of local time, but having a feeling for Moscow time is also intriguing. It gives an insight into how the local railway stations service trains at all hours of the day and night, whatever the local time. It is also a reminder of the huge distances that creep by almost unnoticed when crossing Siberia by rail.

Another very practical benefit of using the local time is that you get to travel across continents without suffering from jet lag. This is especially useful travelling east, where by shortening your day by just an hour at a time you can avoid the onset of the fatigue usually suffered by passengers making the journey by air. Travelling west you find yourself winding your watch back each day, and the possibility of an extra hour in your comfy berth.

Of course with more than one time zone, it is even more vital to have a singular “railway time” to avoid collisions of trains using different times on the same tracks. Thus, India had “Madras time”, North America had “railway time” and Russia used Moscow time.”

Map 1 based on Moscow time base

Map 2 based on GMT (UTC) time base