October 29, 2012

First Class Deluxe!

Typical First Class layout

I had some top news on Friday – my Trans Mongolian train ticket has been confirmed and I have (as planned and hoped for) sole use of a 1st class compartment, known as “SV”. This is the most comfy way to do the journey, but there is another big plus, hidden to anyone in 2nd or 3rd class. On train No. 4 (which is Chinese) the SV class is even better than normal first class, having private showers shared between every two 1st class compartments.

If you were wondering why I am surprised to get what I paid for, here is how it works. You book and pay in full maybe eight weeks ahead of your travel date, but your ticket cannot be issued until 60 days before you leave. In the peak summer months there are often not enough 1st class spaces available, so people often settle for 2nd class. Although this is four berth (“Coupe”) you can still get a private compartment as its about the same price as the 1st class one.

Here is a typical 1st class carriage layout – its not the SV type, as the beds are above each other and there is no bathroom shown here. What it does show is the convention on berth numbers and compartments.

I have been allocated berths 7 & 8, so thats compartment number 4 – pretty much perfectly placed in the middle of the carriage for a smoother and less disturbed ride…and away from the smokers end area.

I found it really hard to find a picture of the compartment, but eventually got lucky.. Here is the corridor of carriage 9 – my compartment is the next one along.

Train No 4 First Class SV carriage

There are very few pictures of the compartments of this train, so I’m grateful to katecphtank’s photostream (which has loads of amazing images of the journey) for this shot –

Train No 4 First Class SV compartment (courtesy of Katecphtank)

As you can see its quite plush – a chair, two berths, shared bathroom, electric socket and fan. It also has a storage cupboard in addition to space under the bed. Looking closely at this photo I can also see the window locks – see my Secret Key blog!

My ticket is described as “with services”- I’m not sure if this is a daily manicure and detox massage, or simply some bedding, but it sounds exciting anyway! I will share a picture of the ticket when I collect it next weekend.

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