Rakhiv to Mariupol: Riding Ukraine’s Longest Train Route

This review details a ride on the night train from Rakhiv to Mariupol, Ukraine’s longest passenger railway route before the Russian invasion.

Rakhiv to Mariupol train

On 12th December 2021 – just months before the Russian invasion – the Ukrainian Railways (Ukrzaliznytsia) started their longest ever passenger railway route by launching direct trains between Rakhiv and Mariupol.

The Rakhiv to Mariupol train traverses 12 different ‘oblasts’ (regions) on its long journey across Ukraine and takes just under 29 hours to complete the 1806-kilometre-long route.

To put this into perspective: That’s the same distance as Amsterdam to Lisbon or Warsaw to Athens!

Not only does the train connect several large Ukrainian cities such as Mariupol, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk, but it also stops at a couple of popular tourist destinations in the Carpathian Mountains such as Tatariv (the station closest to the ski resort of Bukovel).

Needless to say, I was absolutely looking forward to travel on this train.

Taking a train ride across a country as vast as Ukraine really makes you understand its diverse geography and culture.

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The route of the Rakhiv to Mariupol train, Ukraine’s longest passenger railway connection. ©OpenStreetMap/Paliparan

To the station

After a fun day in Rakhiv in Ukraine’s south-western region of Transcarpathia it was time to take the train to my real destination on this trip: Mariupol.

Rakhiv’s train station is located in the city centre just across the bridge on the eastern (left) bank of the River Tisza.

If you need to stock up before the journey, the Tsypa Craft Beer & Food shop is located directly opposite the station and has some great locally-made beers, cheeses and chocolate.

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The town of Rakhiv is bisected by the River Tisza. ©Paliparan
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The train station (‘vokzal’) in Rakhiv. ©Paliparan
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Tsypa craft beer and food shop. ©Paliparan

Rakhiv station

Rakhiv’s railway station is rather small, which isn’t all that surprising as you can count the daily train departures on one hand.

Although the station building has just a single ticket window, a public toilet and a couple of seats it was neatly appointed, clean and warm inside.

As I had already bought my ticket some weeks before through the easy-to-use online booking tool on the Ukrzaliznytsia website, I could walk straight to my train.

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Inside Rakhiv’s train station. ©Paliparan
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Train station ticket window. ©Paliparan
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Waiting hall at Rakhiv’s railway station. ©Paliparan
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Station waiting hall. ©Paliparan
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Train departure board at Rakhiv’s station. ©Paliparan
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List of train ticket prices to some of the most important cities in Ukraine. ©Paliparan
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Train at Rakhiv station. ©Paliparan
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Rakhiv railway station. ©Paliparan
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Ukrainian Railways locomotive. ©Paliparan

Ukrzaliznytsia Train Rakhiv to Mariupol
Train 006 ЛА – Departure: 12.40pm – Arrival: 5.26pm (+1 day)
Duration: 28h46m – Distance: 1,806 kilometres
First Class (Spalny Vagon), Wagon 5, Seat 1 – Costs: 180 EUR

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The Rakhiv to Mariupol train is waiting for departure. ©Paliparan

Boarding the train

My train to Mariupol was already ready for boarding at platform 2.

I was booked in Spalny Vagon (often abbreviated as SV), which basically equals to first class on Ukrainian trains.

There are two berths in each Spalny Vagon compartment, while Kupe (2nd class) has four berths in each compartment.

If you are a solo traveller in Spalny Vagon you may have to share your compartment with one other passenger of the same sex, unless you book both berths and thus have the entire compartment for private use, which was exactly what I did.

With a Spalny Vagon ticket from Rakhiv to Mariupol costing 90 euro, I therefore paid 180 euro to have a private compartment on the train (a Kupe ticket would have cost €30 on this route in comparison).

Although this is quite expensive when you take into account Ukrainian price levels, I thought the privacy and comfort was well worth it on a journey this long.

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The Rakhiv to Mariupol train (left) is ready for boarding. The train at the other side of the platform would depart from Rakhiv to Odessa some hours later.. ©Paliparan
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The electronic destination shield shows this is the train from Rakhiv to Mariupol. ©Paliparan

Inside the compartment

The quality and comfort of my compartment was a pleasant surprise as the wagons on the Rakhiv-Mariupol train were either brand new or extensively renovated and modernised.

It certainly was not what I expected as the trains on all my previous travels across Ukraine featured decades-old sleeper wagons.

My Spalny Vagon compartment felt fresh, was spotlessly clean and had all kinds of smart little details which you won’t find on older trains.

Underneath the large table with cupholders were some power sockets, USB charging ports as well as a small shelf to put your mobile phone on.

Each bed also featured an individual reading light, as well as several hooks to hang up your jacket or clothes.

The train wagon was also fitted with climate control and you can fully adjust the airflow and temperature in your compartment.

The air-conditioning and heating system worked like a charm and my compartment was fortunately warm and cosy on this chilly winter day.

With the buttons on the electronic display, you can also adjust the brightness of the lights inside the compartment.

Most importantly, my train compartment turned out to be comfortable both in the daytime while seated as well as during the night when laying down and getting some sleep.

As you may expect when travelling in Spalny Vagon, the beds were already made up, with several pillows and some extra blankets being put on each bed.

There is plenty of space in the compartment to store your luggage, as you can put your bags in the empty space underneath the beds or in the large recess above the door.

As you can lock your compartment door from the inside, your personal belongings will be perfectly safe when you go to sleep, making train travel in Ukraine perfectly safe.

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Sleeper wagon corridor. ©Paliparan
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Brand new Spalny Vagon (SV) compartment on the Rakhiv to Mariupol train. ©Paliparan
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Each Spalny Vagon compartment has two beds. ©Paliparan
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Clothes hanger in the compartment. ©Paliparan
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Electronic buttons for cabin lights and other display settings. ©Paliparan
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Complimentary bottle of water on a small storage rack. ©Paliparan
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Power sockets and USB charging ports underneath the table. ©Paliparan


Each wagon on the Rakhiv-Mariupol train has two shared toilets, one at each far side of the carriage.

Throughout the journey the toilets were kept perfectly clean.

A nice feature on this modern train is that you can see from the red and green lights on the electronic display in your compartment whether the toilets are occupied or available.

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Toilet on the Rakhiv-Mariupol train. ©Paliparan
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The electronic display in my compartment shows that the toilet at the left end of the carriage is available (green) while the one on the right is currently occupied (red). ©Paliparan

Amenity kit

A small amenity kit was provided as well on the train, although the contents weren’t much to write home about as it only consisted of a pack of tissues, wet wipes and toothpicks.

Besides this, a small bottle of water and a towel were provided as well.

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Ukrzaliznytsia amenity kit. ©Paliparan
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The amenity kit was basic and only consisted of tissues, wet wipes and toothpicks. ©Paliparan


The night train to Mariupol left Rakhiv station on time and as you might expect the views are superb right from the start.

You don’t want to doze off during the first couple of hours of the ride as you will miss out on some excellent mountain scenery.

During the first part of the journey, the train follows the course of the River Tisza as it meanders through a beautiful mountain valley.

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Riding through the Rakhiv suburbs. ©Paliparan
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The railway line runs along the River Tisza in a valley. ©Paliparan
Houses and factories. ©Paliparan
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Riding along the River Tisza. ©Paliparan

Winter landscapes

The journey through the Ukrainian Carpathians turned out to be as beautiful as the lovely train ride I took a day earlier through the Romanian part of this mountain chain.

Indeed, the train again passed along some forested hills and sleepy mountain villages, all blanketed with a fresh layer of snow.

It was certainly highly enjoyable to watch the scenery from the train and to spot the odd village church or rickety wooden suspension bridge across the Tisza.

After a short while, the Rakhiv-Mariupol train made its first scheduled stop at the station of Kvasy.

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Sleepy Ukrainian villages as seen from the train window. ©Paliparan
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Church in the town of Bilyn. ©Paliparan
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High above the River Tisza. ©Paliparan
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Tisza river view. ©Paliparan
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Approaching the town of Kvasy. ©Paliparan

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The blue-coloured church with the golden domes in Kvasy easily stands out in the bleak winter landscape. ©Paliparan
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Lovely view over the River Tisza just north of Kvasy. ©Paliparan

A cup of tea and a book

In my opinion, every long train journey you make requires a good book.

Given the ongoing tensions at the time of travel (late January 2022) with Russia amassing military hardware and troops at the Ukrainian border, I thought that Mark Galeotti’s “A Short History of Russia – From the Pagans to Putin” was an excellent book to read.

For about 50 eurocents, I ordered a cup of tea with the “provodnitsa” (female train attendant, provodnik being the masculine form).

Due to weird COVID rules the tea unfortunately came in a plastic cup instead of a proper tea glass in an elaborately designed nickel-plated “podstakannik” (tea cup holder, although the word literally means “thing under the glass”).

Of course, each Ukrainian long-distance train has a proper samovar in each wagon dispensing hot water for free.

If you want you can therefore also make your own cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate or instant noodles if you bring your own supplies along.

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Reading Mark Galeotti’s book ‘A Short History of Russia’ while drinking a cup of tea on the train. ©Paliparan
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Samovar on the Rakhiv to Mariupol train. ©Paliparan
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Yours truly enjoying a good book, cup of tea and the lovely views from the Rakhiv-Mariupol train. ©Paliparan


One of the highlights of the journey happened around the halfway mark between the stations of Kvasy and Yasinya.

Between the railway line and the River Tisza, I spotted two deer running along the train!

The wildlife was the cherry on the top of what already was a gorgeous train ride, as the winter scenery got better by the minute as we slowly climbed up in the Carpathians.

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Wonderful scenery of the Ukrainian Carpathians as seen from the Rakhiv-Mariupol train. ©Paliparan
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Mountain view. ©Paliparan
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More gorgeous views from the Rakhiv to Mariupol train as it crosses the Carpathians. ©Paliparan


After some 40 minutes on the train, the river valley widened quite a bit as we approached the town of Yasinya.

Although the previous stop at Kvasy seemed somewhat insignificant, there were quite a few people waiting on the platform of Yasinya station waiting to board the train.

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Making our way towards Yasinya. ©Paliparan
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View from the train. ©Paliparan
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Approaching Yasinya. ©Paliparan
Arriving into Yasinya. ©Paliparan

Yasinya to Vorokhta

From Yasinya, it’s just over half an hour to Vorokhta, the next stop on our long trip to Mariupol.

Just before reaching Vorokhta, the train crosses the border between the oblasts (regions) of Zakarpattia and Ivano-Frankivsk.

Again, the scenery changed quite a bit along the way as the narrow river valley gave way to views of densely forested hills and mountains.

Just before reaching Voroktha station, the train basically circles the town over a railway viaduct, which makes for some fine views from the window.

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Wooden church. ©Paliparan
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This part of the journey is dominated by dense forests. ©Paliparan
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Approaching the town of Vorokhta. ©Paliparan

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The train loops around Vorokhta over a railway viaduct. ©Paliparan
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View from the railway viaduct over Vorokhta. ©Paliparan
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View over Vorokhta. ©Paliparan
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Vorokhta train station. ©Paliparan
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The railway station of Vorokhta. ©Paliparan

Time for lunch

At this point of the journey, it was time to crack open my lunch supplies.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any dining cars on Ukrainian night trains, so you will have to bring your own supply of food and drinks on board.

When travelling in a shared compartment it’s even common for people to share some of their food.

Among others, I had brought along some meat balls, potato pancakes, a salad, salty string cheese, chocolate and two bottles of craft beer for lunch.

From Voroktha we slowly made our way towards the next station of Tatariv, a popular stop due to its proximity to the famous Ukrainian ski resort of Bukovel.

Indeed, one of the primary reasons behind the launch of the Rakhiv-Mariupol train was to offer a direct connection to the mountain resort towns of south-western Ukraine for those living in the east of the country.

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My lunch on the Rakhiv to Mariupol train. ©Paliparan
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View between Vorokhta and Tatariv. ©Paliparan
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Tatariv train station. ©Paliparan

Tatariv to Yaremche

From the station of Tatariv-Bukovel it was another short 30-minute hop to the following station of Yaremche, the last of the Carpathian resort towns where the Rakhiv-Mariupol train halts.

At this point, we already crossed the watershed and were on the northern side of the Carpathians, slowly making our way downhill again.

Between Tatariv and Yaremche the railway line follows the course of the River Prut, which later streams east towards Chernivtsi and the country of Moldova where it forms the border with Romania.

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Riding along the River Prut just to the north of Tatariv. ©Paliparan
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Watching the views from the aisle of the sleeper wagon. ©Paliparan
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Bridge over the Prut in Mykulychyn. ©Paliparan
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Approaching Yaremche. ©Paliparan
On approach to Yaremche. ©Paliparan
The town of Yaremche as seen from the train. ©Paliparan
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Yaremche railway station. ©Paliparan
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The train station of Yaremche. ©Paliparan
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Yaremche train station. ©Paliparan
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Another train at Yaremche railway station. ©Paliparan

Yaremche to Ivano-Frankivsk

After Yaremche, the scenery quickly changes as the train leaves the Carpathian mountains behinds.

Already in the foothills the snow started to disappear and once we reached the plains around Ivano-Frankivsk there was hardly any snow left on the ground.

Instead, the views now consisted of endless fields in shades of brown and grey, which doesn’t make this part of Ukraine the most picturesque bit of the country to traverse in winter.

The train arrived on time in Ivano-Frankivsk, a major university city and commercial hub in south-western Ukraine.

At Ivano-Frankivsk, the Rakhiv-Mariupol train halted for 15 minutes, which made for a good opportunity to stretch my legs a bit on the platform.

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After Yaremche, the mountains and snow slowly disappeared. ©Paliparan
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The sun slowly setting above western Ukraine. ©Paliparan
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Snowy fields in western Ukraine. ©Paliparan
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Scenery between Yaremche and Ivano-Frankivsk. ©Paliparan
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The terrain flattening out between Yaremche and Ivano-Frankivsk. ©Paliparan
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The scenery at this point of the journey was a bit less exciting after the splendour of the Carpathians. ©Paliparan
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View from the Rakhiv-Mariupol train as it makes its way to Ivano-Frankivsk. ©Paliparan
Scenery near Tysmenychany. ©Paliparan
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Fields of western Ukraine. ©Paliparan
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Passing a goods train a few miles out of Ivano-Frankivsk. ©Paliparan
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Approaching Ivano-Frankivsk. ©Paliparan
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Arriving at the station of Ivano-Frankivsk. ©Paliparan
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The Rakhiv-Mariupol train stops for 15 minutes at Ivano-Frankivsk station. ©Paliparan
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Ivano-Frankivsk railway station. ©Paliparan
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The station building of Ivano-Frankivsk. ©Paliparan

Ivano Frankivsk to Lviv

The stretch between Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv is an ideal moment to read a book or doze off a bit as the scenery isn’t the most exciting.

Apart from the odd town and industrial complex, it’s again endless fields as far as the eye can see.

However, the sunset colours were absolutely amazing on this cold winter day and made for some beautiful views from the window.

At 6.33pm – a full ten minutes before the scheduled arrival time – the Rakhiv-Mariupol train pulled into Lviv’s gorgeous station.

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Leaving the city of Ivano-Frankivsk behind. ©Paliparan
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Freight trains at an industrial complex north of Ivano-Frankivsk. ©Paliparan
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Ivano-Frankivsk cement factory. ©Paliparan
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Landscape north of Ivano-Frankivsk. ©Paliparan
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Passing non-stop through Halych station. ©Paliparan
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Sunset colours. ©Paliparan
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Lovely sunset as seen from the Rakhiv-Mariupol train. ©Paliparan
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Sunset over western Ukraine. ©Paliparan
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Beautiful winter sunset colours. ©Paliparan
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The Rakhiv-Mariupol train having arrived at Lviv. ©Paliparan
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At Lviv, the Rakhiv-Mariupol train makes a 37-minute stop. ©Paliparan

Lviv station

The Rakhiv to Mariupol train makes a 37-minute stop at Lviv station, which in my case turned out to be a 47-minute stop due to the early arrival of our train.

As I was getting hungry again, I decided to make a run for a pizza restaurant recommended by a friend (Andy B. – who is well-worth a follow on Twitter if you like train travel).

Although the restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of a building directly opposite Lviv’s train station and adjacent tram stops, it was still a bit of a risk going there as I had no idea how long it would take them to make my pizza.

Fortunately, the chef at the Pizza Napoletana restaurant reassured me that it would be ready in time for me to get back to my train.

Indeed, the pizza was ready in about 15 minutes, which even left me with enough time to admire Lviv’s wonderful railway station before boarding my train again.

With its classic waiting halls with high ceilings and chandeliers as well as its beautiful train shed and old-fashioned wooden kiosks on the platforms, Lviv has always been one of my favourite railway stations in Europe.

It just oozes charm and history and still feels like a throwback to the architectural glory days of the early 1900s.

However, the presence of a couple of dozen Ukrainian soldiers on one of the platforms was a foreshadowing of darker times which soon would engulf Ukraine.

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The front entrance of Lviv’s magnificent train station. ©Paliparan
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The pizza restaurant in front of Lviv’s railway station. ©Paliparan
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Waiting for my pizza to be ready. ©Paliparan
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Back into the central hall of the railway station with my pizza in hand. ©Paliparan
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Lviv train station waiting room. ©Paliparan
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I just love these dimly lit waiting rooms with their old-fashioned kiosks. ©Paliparan
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Walking back to the platform of my train. ©Paliparan
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These beautiful wooden kiosks on the platforms are another reason why Lviv’s train station is so beautiful. ©Paliparan
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The Rakhiv-Mariupol train at the railway station of Lviv. ©Paliparan
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Ukrainian soldiers waiting to board their train at the station of Lviv. ©Paliparan

Back in the train

With a tasty pizza and a good bottle of Georgian wine, life inside my compartment was still cheerful however.

After a couple of hours eating, drinking and reading it was time to go to sleep as I wanted to wake up early the next morning.

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Enjoying a delicious pizza and a good bottle of Georgian wine in my train compartment. ©Paliparan
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Time to sleep! ©Paliparan

Morning in Dnipro

After a good night of sleep I woke up some 30 minutes before the train arrived in the city of Dnipro in eastern Ukraine.

I wanted to wake up early enough to check the latest news updates about the build-up of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border.

As my destination of Mariupol was just miles away from the line of contact between the Ukrainian Army and the Russian Armed Forces in Russian-occupied Donbas, I wanted to be as much prepared as I possibly could be.

In case of worrying news happening overnight (field hospitals being set up, troops being moved to forward positions and other such signs of an imminent attack) I could still abandon my journey by leaving the train in Dnipro or Zaporizhzhia well before we would reach the Donbas.

There were however no major news updates or local gossips signalling such an imminent attack, so I knew that at least for the next few days the situation on the ground would remain safe and calm.

At Dnipro (a city of almost 1 million inhabitants formerly known as Dnipropetrovsk), the Rakhiv-Mariupol train makes a 15-minute stop, which was again a great opportunity to stretch my legs a bit.

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View from the train when I woke up just before 9am. ©Paliparan
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Approaching Dnipro. ©Paliparan
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The station of Dnipro. ©Paliparan
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The Rakhiv-Mariupol train at Dnipro station. ©Paliparan
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Morning walk on the chilly platform of Dnipro’s railway station. ©Paliparan
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Dnipro train station. ©Paliparan

Crossing the Dnieper

Another reason why I wanted to wake up early was because I didn’t want to miss the moment we would cross the River Dnieper.

The Dnieper river flows from the Valdai Hills near Smolensk, Russia all the way to the Black Sea and basically bisects Ukraine in half.

As the Dnieper is dammed at six different places across Ukraine, some large reservoirs were created along its course, making the river extremely wide and thus a formidable natural barrier.

Just a few minutes after departure from Dnipro, the train crossed the Amurskyi Bridge over the frozen water of the River Dnieper.

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The frozen water of the River Dnieper. ©Paliparan
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Across the Amurskyi Bridge over the River Dnieper. ©Paliparan
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Looking back towards the Amurskyi Bridge from the east bank of the Dnieper. ©Paliparan
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Passing train at the other side of the river. ©Paliparan
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Just after the crossing of the Dnieper, the train also crosses the Samara river. ©Paliparan

Onward to Zaporizhzhia

From Dnipro, it takes around one-and-a-half hour to reach Zaporizhzhia, another major city in eastern Ukraine.

Just like in Dnipro, there were many people leaving the Rakhiv-Mariupol train here with only few remaining on board for the final part of the journey into the Donbas.

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Passing through a village somewhere between Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia. ©Paliparan
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Arriving at Zaporizhzhia. ©Paliparan
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Zaporizhzhia train station. ©Paliparan

Zaporizhzhia to Novobohdanivka

From Zaporizhzhia, the Rakhiv-Mariupol heads south on the railway line towards Melitopol.

This isn’t the classic route to Mariupol as the most direct railway line runs through the city of Donetsk.

However, since 2014 when Russian-backed separatists seized control of Donetsk and other parts of the Donbas, the Ukrainian Railways were no longer able to route their trains this way.

Instead, trains to Mariupol had to make a huge detour, first heading south from Zaporizhzhia to Novobohdanivka located about halfway on the line to Melitopol.

The ride south from Zaporizhzhia to Novobohdanivka was fairly pleasant as for a big part of the journey the railway line hugs the east bank of the Dnieper.

It was certainly special to see ice fishers walking on the frozen surface of the river.

A landmark to look out for on this railway line is the historic Popov Manor House (also called Popov’s Castle) in Vasylivka.

Built in Gothic Revival style and clearly visible from the adjacent railway tracks, this manor house was unfortunately completely ransacked by invading Russian troops in March.

At Novobohdanivka, the Rakhiv-Mariupol train makes a technical stop as the locomotive is attached to the other end of the train, allowing it to reverse direction and head out east on the railway line to Tokmak and Volnovakha.

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The village of Kushuhum just south of Zaporizhzhia. ©Paliparan
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Passing the small station of Kushuhum. ©Paliparan
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Kushuhum station. ©Paliparan
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Along the icy shores of the Dnieper. ©Paliparan
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The frozen water of the Dnieper. ©Paliparan
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View over the frozen River Dnieper from the Rakhiv-Mariupol train. ©Paliparan
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Popov Castle in the town of Vasylivka. ©Paliparan
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Frozen fields somewhere in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. ©Paliparan
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Typical view from the train in eastern Ukraine. ©Paliparan
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Approaching Novobohdanivka. ©Paliparan
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The Rakhiv-Mariupol train makes a technical stop at the station of Novobohdanivka. ©Paliparan
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The station of Novobohdanivka. ©Paliparan

Into the Donbas

After the technical stop at Novobohdanivka, we travelled eastward towards the border between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk Oblast.

Before reaching Volnovakha in the Donbas, the train makes a single stop at the small settlement of Kamysh-Zorya while driving non-stop through larger cities like Tokmak.

The landscape looked a bit gloomy in this part of Ukraine as it was basically just dreary towns and villages and black soil fields as far as the eye could see.

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Heading east from Novobohdanivka into the Donbas. ©Paliparan
Railways in the town of Molochansk. ©Paliparan
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Scenery just before the border between Zaporizhzhia Oblast and Donetsk Oblast. ©Paliparan

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The station of Komysh-Zorya. ©Paliparan
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Ukrainian diesel locomotive at Komysh-Zorya station. ©Paliparan


Volnovakha is a major railway hub in Donetsk Oblast and an important stop for the Rakhiv-Mariupol train.

At Volnovakha, the Rakhiv-Mariupol train stops for 20 minutes as it again reverses direction.

This time, the diesel engine which took us all the way here was decoupled from the train while an electric locomotive was attached at the other end (unlike the Novobohdanivka-Volnovakha line, the railway line from Volnovakha to Mariupol is electrified).

With its pastel-coloured station buildings, Volnovakha seemed like a nice little place.

Unfortunately, the city of Volnovakha would soon suffer the same fate as Mariupol it being all but completely levelled by the invading Russians.

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The Rakhiv-Mariupol train at the station of Volnovakha. ©Paliparan
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Volnovakha station. ©Paliparan
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At Volnovakha, the Rakhiv-Mariupol train gets a new locomotive and reverses direction. ©Paliparan
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Volnovakha’s pink-coloured station building. ©Paliparan
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New electric locomotive being attached to the train. ©Paliparan
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The Rakhiv-Mariupol train at Volnovakha. ©Paliparan

The last stretch to Mariupol

Darkness fell fast after departure from Volnovakha.

Apart from the smoke coming from the chimneys of the massive steel factories on the outskirts of Mariupol, the views were fairly limited.

After a nearly 29-hour-long journey, the Rakhiv-Mariupol train finally arrived at its destination being bang on schedule.

It felt a bit surreal disembarking the train and walking on the platforms of Mariupol’s railway station having crossed the entire of Ukraine from west to east in these challenging times.

However, everything still seemed peaceful as I watched passengers being welcomed by their friends and family and escorted into cars, taxis and buses waiting outside the station.

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Darkness was falling when we headed south to Mariupol. ©Paliparan
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The Rakhiv-Mariupol train has finally arrived at its destination! ©Paliparan
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The Rakhiv-Mariupol train having just arrived at Mariupol’s railway station. ©Paliparan
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Trains at the station of Mariupol. ©Paliparan
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Mariupol train station. ©Paliparan
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Mariupol train station building. ©Paliparan
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Yours truly at the station of Mariupol in front of the train from Rakhiv. ©Paliparan


Rakhiv to Mariupol used to be Ukraine’s longest passenger train route and it certainly was a journey I have fond memories of.

It’s a gorgeous journey on a modern and comfortable train which takes you from the Carpathian Mountains in south-western Ukraine all the way to the Donbas in the far eastern reaches of the country.

On the way you see deer running along the railway line, skiers and snowboarders boarding the train in different Carpathian mountain resorts and beautiful stations in historic cities like Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv.

The following day you wake up in eastern Ukraine as the train halts in important places like Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia and crosses the mighty Dnieper River.

In 29 hours you really get to see how geographically diverse Ukraine is.

However, writing this review of the Rakhiv-Mariupol train also brings back feelings of sorrow, knowing that it’s no longer possible to make the same journey and that it’s still unclear whether it will ever be in the future.

Cities on the train line such as Mariupol and Volnovakha have been almost completely destroyed by Russia, which still occupies vast swaths of Ukraine.

Nowadays, the lovely, hard-working staff at Ukrzaliznytsia still operates trains to the frontlines in eastern Ukraine under immensely difficult circumstances.

This article is a testimony to their important work, which will hopefully be rewarded one day with Ukrzaliznytsia being able to operate passenger trains again to cities all across a fully liberated and free Ukraine from Mariupol to Kharkiv and from the Donbas to Crimea.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘Mail From Mariupol: A Pre-War Trip to Ukraine by Train‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Night Train Bucharest to Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania
2. At the Sighet-Solotvyno Border: From Romania Into Ukraine
3. Review: Solotvyno to Rakhiv by Bus
4. Review: Hotel Europa, Rakhiv, Ukraine
5. In the Land of the Hutsuls: A Visit to the Town of Rakhiv
6. Rakhiv to Mariupol: Riding Ukraine’s Longest Train Route (current chapter)
7. A Tribute to Mariupol: Memories of a Pre-War Visit
8. Ukrainian Railways Mariupol to Kiev Train in Platzkart
9. Review: Ibis Kyiv Railway Station Hotel
10. Review: Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi Station First Class Lounge
11. Ukraine Night Train: Over the Mountains to Mukachevo
12. Review: Latorca InterCity Train Mukachevo to Budapest
13. A Short Stopover in Szolnok, Hungary
14. Review: Ister Night Train Budapest to Bucharest
15. Epilogue: Witnessing the Ukrainian Refugee Crisis at the Border

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

One thought on “Rakhiv to Mariupol: Riding Ukraine’s Longest Train Route

  • September 30, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    As good as ever Koen! Let’s hope it’s possible to make this journey again before too long.


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