important train question for september

Aug 15th, 2002, 07:19 PM
  #1  
geno
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important train question for september

we will be travelling from naples to florence,florence to venice and venice to rome in early september. we have checked the web sites and would appreciate any first hand experience with italian trains.

1. rail europe point to point costs about $500 for the two of us for all 3 segments. this would include the $16 cost per ticket for reservations. are there any other costs (it seems like there is a $7 supplement for eui trains.

2. should we get open tickets which would allow first class travel when we want providing space is available?

3. having reserved tickets is scary as if we change our schedule or are delayed, then might we lose the value of our prepaid tickets?

4. some say that open first class is best since we will save $32 per segment and we simply show up 30 minutes before departure and find a seat...(how likely is it that first class seats will be booked solid?)

5. we checked out rail europe for schedules...we are told that we can buy our tickets at the train stations once we arrive and the price could be higher, but not much.

any comments would be appreciated.

geno
 
Aug 15th, 2002, 08:06 PM
  #2  
Rex
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The price will be $100 to $200 LOWER if you wait to buy when you are in Italy. The exact (second class, not first class) fares are on this thread:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=2&tid=1399455

For more information, I recommend that you try to get familar with:

www.trenitalia.com

or

www.railsaver.com

or both.

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Aug 15th, 2002, 08:31 PM
  #3  
Bob Brown
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My general experience has been that Rail Europe prices are anywhere from 10% to 80% higher than the same ticket bought in Europe. As a general rule, you do not need reservations, except on some of the trains like the TGV in France and the Thalys trains, and Eurostar. But often you can reserve one day in advance. Except for heavy travel days, I have never had a problem.
I suggest you do this:
go to each of the national rail sites for the trains you want to ride.
Look up the prices as far as you can.
In some cases you must interpolate by looking up various segments, but you can get a good comparison.
Here is a linkage site that has connections to every national rail system in Europe, incuding Russia:
http://mercurio.iet.unipi.it/misc/timetabl.html
Each icon will connect you with a national rail site. Of the group, the Deutsche Bahn site is perhaps the best, but the Swiss site is good, too, for much of Western Europe.
I usually query the German site first, and then select others based on need if the German site cannot answer all of my questions.

Here is a comparison of prices.
From Paris to Bern, my cost for the TGV is 49.80€ if I buy through the SNCF, which I can do by phone to France at about 8 cents a minute from my house.
(age discount) If I buy from Rail Europe, I pay $89.00, senior fare.
That is a mark up of 79% assuming parity between the dollar and the euro!! If I add in the postage of $10, to get the ticket to me, then I pay a markup of darn near 100%, let me repeat that: a mark UP of 100%.

Paris to Munich, 1st class, from RE is $179 including shipping/postage.
Buy the ticket from the SNCF and it costs you 157€ Not quite as steep a markup, but still $20 more.

Some people pay those markups because they think they are getting convenience.
I think it is because they are not convinced they can buy from European sources. But if you have two to three days of lead time, I see no reason not to wait until you are in Europe.

 
Aug 15th, 2002, 08:41 PM
  #4  
Kay
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I would buy the tickets in Italy once you arrive, a few days before your first train journey. You can buy them all at once, either at the main train station or a travel agent. We found writing it all down was a help, with dates, times and where we were going.
We missed connections once or twice due to the train arriving late and we could still use the ticket but not the seat reservation. This meant we could get on the train but had to try and find 2 unreserved seats. The trains were generally packed in 2nd class in March/April so will be busier in Sept. We were originally going to travel 1st class on the trains but having seen 2nd class, I wouldn't bother paying the extra.
Kay
 
Aug 16th, 2002, 06:03 AM
  #5  
up
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up
 
Aug 16th, 2002, 06:51 AM
  #6  
anna
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We just got back from Italy. I got the train schdule from AAA. Then once in Italy we bought our tickets. It was much cheaper. Have a great trip.
 
Aug 16th, 2002, 10:01 AM
  #7  
Red
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I'm one of those people who pay more to get their tickets ahead of time over the Internet. I always buy first-class seats with a reservation. It just gives me peace-of-mind for whatever that is worth.
 
Aug 16th, 2002, 10:24 AM
  #8  
linda
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We got back from a 2 week trip to italy in july, having finally chosen a rail pass for any 8 days in 2 months. We traveled a lot more than you are, and I have a few general thoughts. We were more than glad that we had some sort of pass that allowed one to get on a train without standing in the info/ticket lines in the major cities (they were without fail a zoo). First class is nice, we paid more for it, but never made reservations (some trains like the eurostar require it of everyone, and we did it once but for the extra ~$11 per ticket equivalent, we felt it wasn't worth it.) These distances are not long enough to warrant the ultra fast trains. reservations would definitely be a negative we thought, since we travel independently and plans change. it is not as nice to have to be somewhere on schedule. We never had any trouble with any train without reservations, in fact showed up about 10 ahead, figured out where the first class car would be/or already was, and always go a seat (3 of us). we bought an official trenitalia train schedule book, for about $4, at the train station in venice and it was worth its weight in gold once you spent some time figuring it out. we then knew when the trains were leaving from wherever and just showed up a few minutes early. worked wonderful. BUY ONE!!

sooo to summarize a long discourse, don't spend time waiting in reservation/ticket lines, get something of a pass. buy the schedule book and don't make any reservations just show up. buy first class pass, worth it.

email if any questions about this involved post, enjoy italy, it is wonderful.
 
Aug 16th, 2002, 10:29 AM
  #9  
Kelly
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Awesome post! Thanks for the question and the answers, especially Linda's tip about buying the schedule.
 
Aug 16th, 2002, 07:33 PM
  #10  
Rex
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for Kelly (and I will e-mail to you with the address you sent to me)

from http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=2&tid=1357584

Thomas Cook EUROPEAN TIMETABLE


Author: sana ([email protected])
Date: 03/26/2002, 02:23 pm
Message: Where can you purchase it? If I am travelling in September is it better to wait for a more up to date version or should I order it now?


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: jahoulih ([email protected])
Date: 03/26/2002, 02:27 pm
Message: http://www.thomascookpublishing.com/books/

I would wait at least until June, when the summer schedules go into effect.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: Tim Stark ([email protected])
Date: 03/26/2002, 07:34 pm
Message: I agree that one should wait to purchase a Thomas Cook's until just before your travel date.
You can also purchase them from Forsyth Travel Library which is an excellent source for travel stuff.

http://www.forsyth.com/

http://www.forsyth.com/products/thomas_cook.html

 
Aug 17th, 2002, 02:34 AM
  #11  
Ben Haines
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I agree with everybody that there is no need to pay through the nose for RailEurope.

I like Linda's points, but as Kay says you can stand in line just once if you write down your routes and days throughout Italy, and take the list to the travel centre in the large station in Naples. They can sell you tickets for each part of the journey, then as others have said you can board whichever tran you choose. It is true, I think, that this commits you to specific days of travel, but not times.

For your travels the Italian National timetable is more detailed and much cheaper that the Thoimas Cook European Timetable. It may be kighter, too.

Ben Haines, London
 

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