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-   -   Italy, Afraid to Rely on Regional Trains (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/italy-afraid-to-rely-on-regional-trains-982363/)

scoutandboo Jun 20th, 2013 06:42 AM

Italy, Afraid to Rely on Regional Trains
 
We're a family of four arriving in Venice on June 29, then traveling to Bolzano via Verona on June 30, then on to Salzburg via Innsbruck on July 1. I'd like to accomplish this all by regional train, to save money, and to not have to lock in to departure times, as we would on a reserved train. I don't mind splitting up 2 and 2 on the train, but it would be nice to manage to get on the same car ... I'm so afraid the regional trains will be too crowded, and we won't be able to get on, especially considering traveling with four. If you think traveling regional is a mistake, is it too late to try to get tickets on a fast train? It says some faster trains, a reservation is optional (should I read that as 'necessary' considering the time of year?

I can't seem to find a regional train from Bolzano to Innsbruck, is there one and should I be looking on trenitalia for that?

Is it also a mistake to rely on the Bayern ticket (again, regional trains) from Salzburg to Munich? We'd be leaving in the late late afternoon on a Wednesday.

PalenQ Jun 20th, 2013 07:37 AM

I have ridden regional trains extensively in Italy and German and they can be crowded at times but since they are local trains but only for a few stops - everyone gets off and you can find seats - the most you may have to stand and this is a worse case scenario that I rarely find would be a short time - usually regional trains except at rush hours are not that packed IME.

For Bolzano to Innsbruck most hours on the hour a regional train leaves for Brennero - border station and from there S-Bahn (regional) trains leave after you arrive abougt 20 minutes to Innsbruck - just buy those tickets in Brennero if you cannot in Italy as I suspect.

I got these schedules from the German Railways web site that I find easiest to use for any European train - a good way to access the site is to go to the home page of www.budgeteuropetravel.com and click on the link 'Best on-line European train schedules' or some such wording and up pops the English schedule page of www.bahn.de site - put in Bolzano for From and To put in Innsbruck and a date - a dummy date if your is far in advance and may not be loaded on yet to get the schedules - I reference this home page link because it also gives you several useful tips for novice-users to fully use this Wunderbar German Railways schedule.

As for Germany - regional trains are like Italy - at times school group kids can swarm aboard for a stop or two but you will never have to stand long and this is rare - for the cost savings go for it - and some regional trains do have first class for a few extra Euros - not sure these do but some do and if so IME you will have a whole train car at times practically to yourself.

bilboburgler Jun 20th, 2013 07:43 AM

regionale trains can be crowded but people just squeeze on, you may not be able to sit together but you will always be able to get in the same wagon just not always sitting. :-)

Dukey1 Jun 20th, 2013 08:01 AM

Your first leg, Venice-Verona is simple. Any train you take from Venice will start out there so getting seated together may be pretty simple. You get to the platform EARLY and be among the first people to board.

The other option is to take the EARLIEST timing of the day which usually means fewer people on board and yes, you WILL have to get up early to do so. Is that a problem for you?

Frankly, I would take something faster with fewer stops but to each their own. TIME is both money and valuable and since you have to make the most of your time that's a decision only you can make.

And no, there is still time to reserve.

kybourbon Jun 20th, 2013 09:17 AM

Some of your routes, regional trains would be the only option so you wouldn't have a choice anyway.

It's not necessarily cheaper to travel on a regional train as opposed the the faster trains because of all the advance purchase discounts available for the faster trains (no discounts in Italy for slow regional trains). The fast trains between Venice/Verona are more frequent than the slow trains and the slow trains take twice as long.

>>>is it too late to try to get tickets on a fast train?<<

YOu can probably walk-up and buy a ticket, but might have to wait until the next train or two.

>>>It says some faster trains, a reservation is optional (should I read that as 'necessary' considering the time of year? <<<

In Italy, it's not optional. All the tickets sold on Trenitalia for the faster trains (AV/IC) will come with seat reservations.

I think you have a much bigger problem than booking trains. You seem to be traveling every day instead of visiting places. One nighters are a miserable way to travel.

PalenQ Jun 20th, 2013 09:51 AM

I have read in good sources that IC trains now reserve a portion of their seats for unreserved seats so passengers can just hop on with an IC ticket - kybourbon I asked you about this before and you did not respond - is this true - I think it was Seat 61 or some such source. It is important to railpass holders and that was the context.

Ackislander Jun 20th, 2013 12:22 PM

It's fine. Everything above is true. The only time I have found regional trains tedious -- and this applies in France and the UK, too -- is when school gets out. They don't really have school buses, so early in the AM and in late afternoon there are often lots of Tweens and Teens amusing themselves and being as boring as they would be in Boston or Belgrade.

Jean Jun 20th, 2013 01:23 PM

I agree with kybourbon that your bigger problem is the day-after-day moving. You're planning:

June 29. Arrive Venice.
June 30. Spend 1/2 day getting to Bolzano.
July 1. Spend more than 1/2 day getting to Salzburg.

I would stay a 2nd night in Venice and take a longer train ride (7 hours) on July 1st.

flanneruk Jun 20th, 2013 02:11 PM

For every hour on regional trains choked with schoolchildren (or their commuting parents and older sibling, because in the civilised parts of Europe there are far more grownups commuting to work by train than schoolchildren going to school) there are at least two hours when those trains are empty.

In the worst possible case, standing for two stops isn't going to kill anyone. You might even encounter (though I wouldn't hold my breath) an adolescent with the manners to cede his seat to you.

PalenQ Jun 20th, 2013 03:37 PM

You might even encounter (though I wouldn't hold my breath) an adolescent with the manners to cede his seat to you.>

Cede their seat to you so you can sit in the middle of a pack of screaming school kids - no I'd rather stand!

kybourbon Jun 20th, 2013 04:17 PM

>>>PalenQ on Jun 20, 13 at 1:51pm
I have read in good sources that IC trains now reserve a portion of their seats for unreserved seats so passengers can just hop on with an IC ticket - kybourbon I asked you about this before and you did not respond - is this true - I think it was Seat 61 or some such source. It is important to railpass holders and that was the context.<<<

I didn't see a question about this before. Can't find anything about it on Trenitalia, but I would assume the rules would be the same as they are for Europeans using an InterRail pass.

From the InterRail website:

***Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca (formerly known as Eurostar Italy), EuroCity (EC):

Premium high-speed trains between the larger Italian cities.
Seat reservation: compulsory. In 1st class the reservation fee includes a welcome drink and a snack.
Reservation fee: 2nd class: € 10 / 1st class: € 10

EuroCity (EC), InterCity (IC):

Trains connecting main destinations inside and outside Italy.
Seat reservation: possible but not compulsory.
Reservation fee: 2nd class: € 3 / 1st class: € 3

Regional (R) and Express (E):

Slower trains within a single region, stopping at almost every station en route.
Seat reservation: not necessary.

InterCity Notte (ICN):

Night trains for medium to long-distance journeys.
Seat reservation: compulsory. In 1st class the reservation fee includes a welcome drink and a snack.
Reservation fee: depends on the comfort level (seats, 4/6-bed couchette, cabin)****

As for jumping on an IC train and expecting to get a seat with a pass, there would have to be some still available (can't imagine them holding any back if the train is full since ticket purchases come with seats). I've been on plenty of full IC trains with people standing in the hall. It's possible you could be stuck on one of those jump seats in the hallway. You can book seat reservations on Trenitalia or at the stations - 3€.

Pepper_von_snoot Jun 20th, 2013 04:34 PM

Keith and I took the train from Venice to Padova with return last June and there were PLENTY of seats in second class.

We are taking the train from Venice to Vicenza in a few weeks and I am not at all concerned about seats.

I could not imagine spending one night in Venice. I need at least 9.

Venice is magic!!


Thin

scoutandboo Jun 20th, 2013 05:36 PM

Your answers have all been so helpful!

Better to go crazy than not go at all. Longer would be best, of course, but the money will run out. Eight days is it, and I'm grateful for it.

Twenty years ago, regional trains worked well for just the two of us, but I wanted to make sure it works for four traveling together, and not making reservations, so I'm relieved. A couple extra hours in one town or another might make us exceedingly happy. Many thanks!

PalenQ Jun 21st, 2013 05:53 AM

Regional trains are IME much less comfy than fast trains - some hard hard metal seats, etc but you also see a more typical local crowd - commuters and not long-distance travelers -I love regional trains - I love stopping at every little station and seeing what's going on - in Italy regional trains also tend to take older routes and not the new high-speed ones skirting cities - older rail routes go thru cities and stop at each one - like between Rome and Florence the train will stop at Orvieto and at least you can see this famous volcanic pile - high-speed trains blow by it miles away - you do not even know you are going by it.

PalenQ Jun 21st, 2013 12:56 PM

Usually in most countries if you have a ticket that can be used on any train - an open ticket - then you must validate or cancel that ticket yourself before boarding the train - trains may not have conductors so they require that - just stick your tickets in some cancelling machine track side.


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