Advance purchase rail tickets?

Jan 4th, 2012, 04:35 AM
  #1  
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Advance purchase rail tickets?

Arriving in Rome @ 7:45AM and plan on taking a car service downtown to drop the majority of our bags off before taking the high speed train to Naples(1st class), then on to Sorrento for 3 days.

Do I need to purchase our rail tickets in advance?
Any savings if I purchase round trip- tickets?
Can it be done if I don't know the exact time we'll arrive at the station?

Will be travelling with our 14 & 11 y.o., Is there any discount on the kids' tickets?
2idocs is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 08:55 AM
  #2  
J62
 
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There is no necessity to purchase rail tickets in advance. There are hourly trains from Rome to Naples at the top of the hour so really no risk of not getting a ticket & seat.

There are cost savings to buying in advance which may be substantial. You can check fares at www.trenitalia.com.

There problem with advance purchase is that tickets are good only on a specific train, and many of the discount fares come with change restrictions.

The biggest problem with buying in advance is that you can't be sure exactly which train you'd be able to catch. A few years ago I had a 7:45 arrival at Rome. Plane landed 1hr late. Took over an hour to get through immigration, and another 45min to wait for baggage claim. We didn't arrive in Rome until nearly 11am.

Since you're going to drop off bags at a Rome location (hotel?), you could play it safe and book an early afternoon train to Naples.

If you're early then you can explore on foot around the hotel, or visit some easy to browse site like Trevi/Piazza Navonna or Campo di Fiori, grab a bite for lunch or just a gelato, people watch a bit then catch your train.

I don't think there is any discount for round trip, or for kids of that age but I'm not sure.
J62 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 09:28 AM
  #3  
 
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There are discounts for families with children under 12.
http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...003f16f90aRCRD

There are no discounts for buying return tickets unless it's same day return. If it's Saturday, Trenitalia is currently running a 2 for 1. This offer has been extended several times so don't know if it will be available for your travel dates.
http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...008916f90aRCRD
kybourbon is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 10:47 AM
  #4  
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If there are no significant savings or risk of being sold out, I think I'l play it safe and just purchase at the station.

We are travelling on a Saurday, so it'd be a nice surprise to get a 2 for 1 fare!
2idocs is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 11:28 AM
  #5  
GAC
 
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Your best bet is to request the "familia fare", which will give you a 50% discount for your younger child, and a 20% discount for the other passengers.

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...003f16f90aRCRD


If the "familia fare" is not available (since it's capacity controlled), your younger child nevertheless automatically qualifies for a 50% discount (being under the age of 12 years and one day). REMEMBER to request this discount!

You will NOT qualify for any of the "MINI" fares, which have a booking deadline no later than 23:59 (Italy time) of the day which is two days prior to the date of travel. In any case, it's very risky to book a "MINI" fare ticket on the very same day as arrival by plane. If you MISS your reserved train, even by one second, you forfeit the ticket in its entirety, and need to purchase a brand-new, full-fare ticket. Consequently, wise travellers don't book the "MINI" fare in these circumstances unless, perhaps, the cost savings is 50-60% and therefore worth the risk of forfeiting the ticket.

You will also NOT qualify for the "Sabato Italiano 2 for 1" fare, which has a booking deadline no later than 23:59 (Italy time) of the day prior to the date of travel. Also, this fare is currently being offered only through February 25, 2012 (although it's already been extended more than once). In any event, the "Sabato Italiano 2 for 1" ticket has the same dangers as the "MINI" fare ticket described above (in case you MISS the train).

Also, you really don't need to travel first class (unless you've got lots and lots of suitcases). Between Rome and Naples, the Frecciarossa train takes a mere 70 minutes, and second class is perfectly fine. Even if you take the slower Intercity train (half the price of the Frecciarossa, but double the time), second class would be quite acceptable for most travellers.

BTW, did you know that you could take a direct BUS from Roma Tiburtina bus depot to SORRENTO without needing to connect at Napoli Centrale?? This is particularly useful if you have heavy luggage. Your car service from Fiumicino airport could drop you directly in front of the Tiburtina bus depot ticket office (in roughly the same amount of time as it takes to reach the Termini train station)

www.marozzivt.it (year-round service)
www.curreriviaggi.it (seasonal service, not on Sundays)

The bus costs only 18 Euros, versus 45 Euros (second class, full fare) for the Frecciarossa train. The bus does take longer, however (3.5 to 4 hours). Check the schedules, because the bus service is very limited and the departure times might not work for you.
GAC is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 12:08 PM
  #6  
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Since this will be our first day in-country after a long flight, I think we'll stick with the speedier train.
My kids will be sick of riding and I think we'll get over the jetlag quicker if we can be out moving around.

What do we gain by upgrading to 1st class vs 2nd?
2idocs is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 12:27 PM
  #7  
GAC
 
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QUESTION: What do we gain by upgrading to 1st class vs 2nd?


ANSWER: you get to pay a lot more!

On the Intercity train, very little difference. A first class compartment has a little more leg room, but identical seat and shoulder room. Seat fabric in first class is nicer.

On the Frecciarossa train, first class seats have a little more seat and shoulder room (64 cms. versus 55.5 cms.), because they are 3-across instead of 4-across. Seat fabric in first class is nicer. In first class, you get a complimentary cup of espresso coffee or non-alcoholic beverage, plus a snack item (you can purchase these in second class from the bar for approx. 2-3 Euros).

You'll save a lot of money by not travelling in first class, but it's your money and your decision!!!
GAC is offline  
Jan 4th, 2012, 12:41 PM
  #8  
 
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My experience in riding Italian trains for years differs greatly from GAC's take on first class - there is IME a world of difference - seats bigger and fewer in same space and only in first class I believe can you book the to me priceless isolated seats - a seat with a window and an aisle and for couples you can have these seats of only one in a row with a table in between.

This is a huge difference IME over second class where you only have seats in rows of three - meaning you are with others who may have to get out to go to the loo, snack bar, etc.

On the trip of a lifetime IMO spend the not that much really extra for first class - folks typically paying $200 or more a night on a hotel should IMO apply the same criteria to rail travel - you can sleep perfectly well in a pension or budget hotel for much less but there is a world of difference over a proper hotel.

Yet the Fodor mantra is always that cheapest is best and that there is little difference and I would beg to differ in that IMO inaccurate assessment.

For loads of great info on Italian trains check out these fine sites IMO - www.seat61.com (run by Man in Seat 61 who on a past thread on Italian trains said he too was 'an afficianado of first class trains' and www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com

And yes with 2 trains an hour or more just buy your train ticket - easiest to do at Rome Airport train station - often no lines, etc or in the autmoatic ticketing machines in stations though these may not take American credit cards - and the Leonardo Express train non-stop into Termini would suit you just fine and the savings from the car transfer would pay the difference between 2nd and 1st class train fare to Napoli perhaps. Actually since the airport train terminates right inside the Rome Termini station it may even be more convenient than a car transfer which cannot enter the station!
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 5th, 2012, 12:45 PM
  #9  
 
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You'll save a lot of money by not travelling in first class, but it's your money and your decision!!!>

for the trip of a lifetime go first class IMO - and there is a big difference not a minor one IME - one wonders why so so many Italians pay more to ride first class - why the heck are there so many first class seats on trains - or are Italians just stupid to pay more for very little. I'll let you answer that question.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 5th, 2012, 01:07 PM
  #10  
J62
 
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The original poster asked not once, but twice about cost savings / discounts, clearly indicating (to me at least) some sensitivity to cost.

But you gotta love the pat one size fits all answers.

Travel first class. So many Italians do it, are they stupid? Clearly implying that if you don't travel first class for a 70min train ride from Rome to Naples you obviously fall into that stupid category.

I thought the previous argument was that there are always many open seats in 1st class that you'll enjoy the peace, while second class is usually packed. Now we hear that so many Italians are traveling first class. Hard to keep fact straight from fiction sometimes.
J62 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2012, 07:29 PM
  #11  
 
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Second class is what the majority of travelers use including Italians that's why there are so many more second class cars/seats than first. Second class is perfectly fine (more room than coach on a plane) and your train ride is a short 70 minutes. There's no need to pay a 25-30% premium for a 70 minute ride in 1st unless you want to as you only gain an inch or two of seat space and a bit nicer fabric.

When you get to Naples you switch to the local commuter train for a 75 minute ride that has no class and no amenities (no bathrooms/snacks) so it's silly to worry about class on such short rides The general rule of thumb is if your trip is over 4-5 hours then you might want to spring for the wider seats. It really doesn't make sense to compare to the old days as trips took much longer. In the last couple of years, the high-speed lines have greatly reduced travel time.

Rome/Naples - 70 minutes
Rome/Florence - 90 minutes
Florence/Venice - 2 hours
Milan/Florence - 2 hours
Rome/Milan - 3 hours

Here's a picture of 2nd class on the fast AV trains.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fr...ssainterno.jpg

>>>or the trip of a lifetime go first class IMO - and there is a big difference not a minor one IME - one wonders why so so many Italians pay more to ride first class - why the heck are there so many first class seats on trains - or are Italians just stupid to pay more for very little. I'll let you answer that question.<<<

You post that on every train thread when there are much more 2nd class seats than 1st class seats. All you have to do is look at the facts on Trenitalia.

AV Frecciarossa:
The 4 first class carriages offer: 195 seats; unisex toilets in each carriage. Carriage number 3 offers: 2 business lounges (8 seats); area and toilet for disabled passengers in a wheelchair.
The 6 second class carriages offer: 408 seats; separate toilets for men and women in each carriage.

AV Frecciargento:
ETR 600
2 1st class carriages
5 2nd class carriages
ETR 485
3 1st class carriages
5 2nd class carriages

AV Frecciabianca:
2 1st class carriages 52 seats (104 total)
6 2nd class carriages 72 seats (432 total)

ES:
3 1st class 139 total seats
5 2nd class 341 total seats

IC
450:
1st class 86 total seats
2nd class 304 total seats

It's easy to see from the numbers that the majority of people book 2nd class.

>>>On the trip of a lifetime IMO spend the not that much really extra for first class - folks typically paying $200 or more a night on a hotel should IMO apply the same criteria to rail travel - you can sleep perfectly well in a pension or budget hotel for much less but there is a world of difference over a proper hotel.<<<

Odd that you post that when you also post you stay in campgrounds, hostels and budget B&B's. It seems trains you are on briefly are more important to you to spend your money on than where you are staying 10-12 hours a night.

As for the bus, it's not much longer than training and doesn't involve changing. The bus goes from Rome to Sorrento without stopping in Naples, but the times might not work for you. It saves you from schlepping your luggage through the Naples train station and downstairs to catch the local train.
kybourbon is offline  
Jan 6th, 2012, 01:09 PM
  #12  
 
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The original poster asked not once, but twice about cost savings / discounts, clearly indicating (to me at least) some sensitivity to cost.>

then they will be eating in McDonalds and sleeping in pensions that offer perfectly good food and a place to sleep.

for the trip of a lifetime go first class - if you are traveling all the time like Italian veteran travelers then it may make more sense to save money.

And yes there are IME usually empty seats in first class you can spread out if want and 2ned class typically elbow to elbow - but it is the one-row seats of aisle and window seats that to me at least are priceless - do not care to be sitting next to others.

anyway there is a significant difference between first and second class and that is why yes many Italians pay extra for it - does not mean first class is full up - one reason they pay extra is because first class often has empty seats and a much more relaxed atmosphere - for the trip of a lifetime go in a more relaxed style IMO - that is my opinion for travelers on the trip of a lifetime not folks constantly riding trains like some above.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 6th, 2012, 06:05 PM
  #13  
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Thanks for all the replies. I expected opinions to vary, but I do feel like my questions were answered.

Cost isn't a real big issue. My main objective is being comfortable since our first day is going to involve stepping off the plane and immediately being on the go again.

If an upgrade to 1st class will allow my kids to relax a little before boarding the local train to Sorrento, I think it will be worth it (especially if I can get the family fare).

Do you advise bringing our own snacks/beverages or is there something decent available on the train?
2idocs is offline  

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