Of course not all trains in the ex-Soviet Union are like previously described. The one from Minsk to Vilnius was a two-carriage effort that looked for all the world like something you’d find plying regional railways in the UK. Except much nicer, obviously (mmm London Midland, mmm East Midlands Trains…).
Still, I guess the journey is only three hours and that includes the border post.
The recorded announcement at the start of the journey was I three languages (Belorussian, Lithuanian, and American) and for some reason accompanied by the sound of panpipes. In addition, the digital display in the carriages tells us useful things like current speed (80km/h in Belarus, rising to 114km/h in Lithuania) and the temperature (13 degrees C at the start of the journey outside, 22 C inside). Seat’s not very comfortable though, and I’m a bit squashed-in (my backpack is under the seat but doesn’t quite fit, and there are people sitting opposite me).
The driver sounds like he has a very shrill hand-held whistle that he blows on entering a station. This is different to the train’s horn that he blows at every level crossing.
Leaving Belarus was very quick (well it’s a small train) and consisted of a gaggle of guards coming on en masse and processing everyone like ticket inspectors would. I’m still impressed by the way they have laptops to process things with (complete with barcode-reading slot so they can scan in things like the passport and even the ice-hockey ticket.
Passport and customs for entering Lithuania were in Vilnius Railway Station itself, like Eurostar.