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Some Good News About Missed Trenitalia Train Connections

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Some (relatively) good news about missed train connections involving MINI fare tickets:

I have written previously about the dangers of holding a MINI fare ticket for a fast national train (AV, ES, IC) when CONNECTING TO that train from an unreserved regionale train, where the connection time is less than 60 minutes.

This is because the Trenitalia Official Tariff Rules, together with the very restrictive rules for the MINI fares, operate together to potentially cause a FORFEITURE of the MINI fare ticket when the train is MISSED owing to a MISSED CONNECTION FROM an unreserved regionale train with less than 60 minutes of connection time.

SOURCE: Trenitalia website, "Condizioni di Trasporto - Parte III", Article 12.3

A separate and distinct rule concerning CONNECTIONS from one national train to another national train provides for a less restrictive minimum CONNECTION TIME of 15 minutes (in order for the traveller to be protected in case the connection is missed).

SOURCE: Trenitalia website, "Condizioni di Trasporto - Parte II", Article 7.3

Now, as Dante wrote around 1300, "Le leggi son, ma chi pon mano ad esse", which roughly translates: "Laws exist, but who enforces them?"

In other words, just because Trenitalia has an Official Rule, does not necessarily mean that it will be enforced as written (or enforced at all).

Last week, when at the Florence Santa Maria Novella Station, I had occasion to ask FOUR different Trenitalia Customer Service Representatives about this issue of MISSED CONNECTIONS when holding a MINI fare ticket for the missed train.

The three representatives staffing the Freccia mobile desks each gave me a consistent reply, viz. the traveller SHOULD be protected (allowed to board a later-departing train, without penalty or premium, notwithstanding holding a MINI fare ticket for the MISSED train), as long as there was at least 15 minutes official connection time between the two trains (and REGARDLESS of whether the first train was another national train or an unreserved regionale train). Here, Trenitalia's Official Rule was clearly being "bent", since it treated late arriving regionale trains the same as late arriving national trains for purposes of MISSED CONNECTIONS.

By contrast, the representative in the Customer Assistance Office by track 5 was adamant that the Official Rule would indeed be enforced as written: no protection in case of a missed connection to a national train with a MINI fare ticket, when connecting from a late-arriving regionale train, unless the connection time was at least 60 minutes. Additionally, he noted that nothing is "automatic", and that specific authorization must be received to allow any changes to a MINI fare ticket under these circumstances.

WHOM TO BELIEVE?: Both! It depends on who enforces the rules, and how they are interpreted!!!

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. Relying on the "15-minute minimum connection" rule between two national trains is very foolish: the odds are simply too great that the connection will be missed. If connecting FROM a regionale train TO a national train, the minimum connection time should be at least 30 minutes (and preferably 60 minutes, to comply strictly with the "60-minute minimum connection" rule). Note that regionale trains often run a few minutes late, and the Intercity (IC) national trains often run late as well.

BTW, you need to be able to demonstrate to the service staff that the regionale train which you boarded arrived late, something which is nearly impossible to PROVE when holding a traditional PAPER ticket for that train. The proof is much easier when holding an ELECTRONIC ticket for the regionale train (since the scheduled departure time of the train is noted on the electronic ticket).

2. If the connection is missed, do try to persuade the customer assistance representative to allow you to board a later-departing train without premium or penalty. If you had at least 15 minutes connection time, you stand a decent chance of being accommodated (and are so entitled if connecting from another national train).

3. If turned down by one customer service representative, ask another one!

4. If you're travelling on a "BASE" fare ticket for the national train, the missed connection problem presents itself much less often: here, you are ALWAYS contractually entitled to be accommodated to a later-departing train, without premium or penalty, departing within 60 minutes of the MISSED train's official departure time from the station of boarding. If the delay is over 60 minutes (which sometimes happens), you SHOULD also be accommodated.

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