Russian Railways has announced the opening of ticket sales for the high-speed “Sapsan” train service between Moscow and St Petersburg ahead of its launch on 18 December.

The 250kmph electric trains would allow passengers to travel between the two cities in 3h 45min, compared with 5h by plane and between 4h 30min and 8h by other means of transport.

The service, available for $185 for first-class and $115 for second-class, will initially be three trains each way.

The trains, each with ten carriages, have internet access, meals, reading material and travel packs and allow passengers to order taxis and buy tickets for other trains while travelling.

Sapsan is part of the Velaro RUS series manufactured by German firm Siemens under a €276m contract in 2006.