TRAIN travel/booking issues

Old Jun 15th, 2017, 06:27 AM
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TRAIN travel/booking issues

My husband and I will be in Europe in September. I am checking into train tickets and trying to figure out which ones need to be bought in advance. Having mucho trouble. This is our travel itinerary and some of my questions. If there is anyone out there that can help me I would appreciate it.

Arrive Zurich Switzerland .....travel from airport to Lucerne by train...(will buy ticket at airport in case flight is delayed, etc.)

We will make a sightseeing trip by train from Lucerne to Interlaken area one day.

We plant to do a trip to Mt. Titlis one day. (we have purchased a 1/2 price card for travel within Switzerland)

Then travel to Cinque Terre, Italy from Lucerne via Sestri Levante. ( will buy pass for Cinque Terre area while there)

Then we will travel from La Spezia to Florence

Finally Florence to Venice.

We like to travel first class (since we don't get to do it often and the train prices are affordable for us)

My main questions are......
Which, if any, of these tickets need to be bought in advance?
When can I buy them? and where?
I have been advised some tickets are discounted if bought online in advance but I have been having a LOT of trouble figuring this out.

I think the Lucerne to Sestri Levante leg is giving me the most trouble...2 countries. Can"t find a price or schedule on SBB. Got a price quote for this itinerary from Rail Europe and it was $633 for both of us. That seems really high to me, but I don't know what I'm talking about to start with, so who knows. I found a nice schedule on Eurail, but no prices!!! We are looking at the train leaving Lucerne either at 7:18 (two stops with hour and a half layover to see Milano Centrale) or the 10:18 with two stops (no layover in MC but nice sunset ride to Manarola once we get to Sestri Levante)

HELP please. I am tearing my hair out.
drenn007 is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2017, 06:46 AM
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Don't use Rail Europe!

Try www.trainline.eu .

Don't buy tickets to Sestri Levante unless you are actually staying there.
Andrew is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2017, 06:47 AM
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1. Swiss domestic:

No need to buy ahead, regular tickets are valid on any train, unlimited availability, no reservations. Use Swiss Railways www.sbb.ch for times and prices.

2. Switzerland-Italy:

Book ahead for cheaper prices, buying on the day means megabucks fares, e.g. Zurich-Milan starts at €19, but is around €80 full-flex bought on the day.

First Book Luzern to Sestri Levante at www.trenitalia.com and you'll see journeys using the one train per day that is direct Luzern-Milan. If this suits, fine.

If not, book Arth Goldau to Sestri Levante at www.trenitalia.com then add a ticket for the frequent Swiss domestic Luzern-Arth Goldau connecting train at www.sbb.ch or buy at the station.
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2017, 06:48 AM
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3. Italian domestic:

- Regional trains, buy at the station
- Longer-distance and high-speed trains, book ahead for cheaper prices at www.trenitalia.com.

For example, Florence-Rome is €44 'base' fare bought on the day, but from €19 if booked in advance with a cheap no refunds, no changes super-economy fare.
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 06:55 AM
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Listen to man in seat 61! He has all the info... Also on his site you will get tips about how/where to connect when you arrive at a station. Read the site from top to bottom, loads of really good info. He's helped me heaps over the years... Thanks man in seat 61!! Love ya!
schnauzer is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2017, 06:55 AM
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Which, if any, of these tickets need to be bought in advance?>

None - you can always get on trains like these - buy way in advance if you want to try for discounts but those are train-specific for a certain time and date and cannot be changed. Man in Seat 61 has given all details on them- for help check his commercial site (www.seat61.com) - for general info also check www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

And yes 1st class is IMO well worth the extra cost if not on a starvation budget - others may disagree but there is a difference and that is why folks pay more for it.
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 07:07 AM
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Here is the trenitalia site in English - http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en

You should also consider Italo where fares may be lower - http://www.italotreno.it/en

You do do mention your age. Both Trenitalia and Italo offer a discount for those over 60 but for Trenitalia you need to be registered whereas with Italo this is not necessary.
nochblad is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2017, 07:46 AM
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Italo is dependably cheap - RailEurope USA actually has similar fares to theirs on their trains -but I think on your route only Florence to Venice maybe would be covered by Italo Trains. I think they basically operate on Milan-Florence-Rome-Naples mainline and use secondary stations (which are fine really - less crowded and on main transit lines).
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 11:02 AM
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Italo uses the main stations in most cities, maybe all cities.

I don't think 1st class is worth the extra money on Trenitalia. In some other countries 1st class is worth the extra expenditure.

I've never been on an Italo train, because Italo doesn't serve the region where I live, and I don't like to split my tickets between two companies who might not honor each other's connection times. So I can't say anything about the worth of 1st class on an Italo train.

Trenitalia Frecciarossa trains have four classes. Standard class is roughly the equivalent of 2nd class and Business is roughly the same as 1st class. Premium class is identical to Standard class except for better upholstery. Executive class is really roomy and would be worth spending the money on if I were tired and traveling a long distance, or if there were a really good discount.

Anyway, Frecciarossa trains don't serve Venice; the Frecciargento trains on that route have just the two classes. There is a negligible difference between the classes. One difference is that there are three seats across instead of four, so the seats are a few cm wider. The legroom and seat pitch are identical. I've never been served anything in 1st class on a Frecciargento train, although I was under the impression that I should have been. I ride 1st class (or Business class on a Frecciarossa train) only if there is a discounted fare that's practically the same as a 2nd class fare.

The extra services in Business class on Trenitalia are a bag of peanuts, a soft drink, and an Italian newspaper. (The last time I was in Business, the server tried to sneak past without offering anything to anyone, but I happened to look up from my book, waylaid her, and got my Coca Cola and Corriere della Sera.)

The legroom of Business seats is the same as in Standard class, although again, the seats are a smidgen wider. The carriages tend to be full of business travelers who spend hours on the phone with the home office. There is also a "business silenzio" car, but it's hard to get seats there.

Some of your trips will be on regional trains, which are just a step up from a metro car. Some of them don't have 1st class. I've never taken 1st class on a regional train. They're usually short trips, and to my mind 1st class on these trains is like putting a lace border on a Kleenex.
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 12:18 PM
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the key thing for me about first class is those single row of seats- an aisle and window seat both - two can face each other with a table in between or you can have just one seat facing no one- to me this is the major difference between 1st cl and 2nd cl in general no matter what train or what class -otherwise not that much difference except fewer folks in same-size train car and less crying babies.
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