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Entries in Travel in Sochi (1)


Sochi High-Speed Rail System Operational


Olympic Park Station- Sochi


Yesterday I took the new high- speed rail from Sochi to Krasnaya Polyana for the first time.  The system, which began operations on November 1, is a spectacular improvement to the infrastructure in Sochi.  The trains are new, the ride is smooth and fast and the views are great.  I went from Sochi to Adler (through stops at Matsesta and Khosta stations) and from there past the airport.  At this point, the train accelerated to 115 kilometers per hour and we made the journey up the Myzimta River Valley to Krasnaya Polyana in about 20 minutes.  Along the way, the train passed over the river and through the steep mountain gorge.


We caught glimpses of snow-covered peaks as we approached Krasnaya Polyana.  The train stopped for a few minutes at Esta Sadok Station and just after we left that station, passengers had views of the ski jump, where athletes will compete for gold in February. Then we passed the huge new development at Gornaya Karusel and the train arrived at the last station, Rosa Khutor (which like Esta Sadok and the rail line is new,too), less than 5 minutes later.  I disembarked there and walked about 250 meters to Fort Evrika, a small hotel near the oldest ski lift in Krasnaya Polyana and just a short walk from Rosa Khutor.  There were quite a few other daytrippers who had come from Sochi to ride the rails and to see the views, the new stations and the mountain resorts being finished for the Winter Games.

I have made the trip from Sochi to Krasnaya Polyana hundreds of times over the last few years.  It can take anywhere from 2- 4 hours based upon traffic.  Even from Adler Station it is never less than an hour and can take 3 with traffic.  But I just made that distance in less than 30 very comfortable and relaxed minutes.

Esta Sadok Station


Rosa Khutor Station


I was first in Krasnaya Polyana in 2004 on a short trip to Sochi with friends.  This was 3 years before Sochi won the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics and at that time I was not even aware it was a candidate.  We drove up the road and spent 2 nights at Fort Evrika.  Then, this was pretty much the end of the road.  There were only a few hotels in the area and the small mountain village of Krasnaya Polyana.  There was not much to do, either. We took the single chairlift to the top of the mountain next to the hotel, saw the views and had a raft trip for several hours down the river.  


Fort Evrika Hotel


While I was riding the train to Krasnaya Polyana and, after,  when I walked to Fort Evrika, I thought about that first trip. It never occurred to me at that time that I would return to Krasnaya Polyana, much less that I would do it very regularly on a road choked with trucks and buses delivering construction materials and workers to massive mountain developments.  And when I went to Fort Evrika, I looked at the small hotel now dwarfed by the new resort just up the road at Rosa Khutor, another just down the road at Gornaya Karusel and flanked by a world-class train station suitable for an Olympic destination.  


Rosa Khutor and New Lift


Next, I rode back down to Adler and switched to the train bound for the Coastal Cluster.  I followed this route because the direct route between the Coastal and the Mountain Clusters is not yet open.  However, it is only a few kilometers from Adler Station to the station at the Olympic Park, so it was a quick trip.  I have watched the station being built there for the last several years, but it was the first time I was onsite.  The building is not yet open, but the platforms and the approach to the Olympic Park are prepared.


Olympic Park Station

Olympic Park Station


Several times I asked for information about train arrival and departure times.  The main criticism I have of the system was that the information I was given was typically not accurate- even when I asked in Russian. However, these are growing pains in a system that is only a few days old.  I noticed that train conductors had badges which identified the languages they spoke, most were pleasant and helpful.

All of the new stations- Adler, Esta Sadok, Rosa Khutor and the Olympic Park are built on a spectacular, grand Olympian scale and capable of handling thousands of passengers per hour.  Sochi has a 21st century transportation system, leapfrogging the issues caused by traffic and construction on the road system.


Adler Station