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Train Travel in Italy - Transferring in Stations

Train Travel in Italy - Transferring in Stations

Apr 4th, 2013, 10:02 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 28
Train Travel in Italy - Transferring in Stations

A group of 4 will be traveling fairly extensively this summer. I have reviewed all of the helpful information on RoninRome's website. In checking the schedules, there are a number of trips where we will be changing trains. Trenitalia allows ~30 or more minutes to make the transfer. My concern is that if we were to enter the station 5 or 10 minutes late, it compresses our time to get luggage and oriented to the station before we can find the platform that our train leaves from. What is the best approach to navigate in the various train stations? Do we have to go inside the terminal to find our next train OR should we stay near where the train enters and ask for help? Are the conductors helpful in terms of guiding us to where our next train is departing from?

We have all traveled a bit but have not used the train much and this will be our first visit to Italy. Also, we plan to travel in first so will be making reservations in advance.

Thanks for any help ...
jldodge is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 10:13 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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In the main entrance hall of the terminal is a large board that is constantly posting information about departures (and arrivals) - it will tell you what track your train will be departing from. I would not expect much help from conductors. For many trips you will need to validate your ticket in the small yellow? box at the front of the train tracks - watch other travelers.

For your first trip give it some extra time - esp. if leaving from a big station - Rome Termini!? Some stations will be very small, finding your track should be easy.

Also I think the German rail site gives info as to what track your tain will be on. I don't know if this is 100% accurate but I usually print out info from their site and carry it with me. I also like to print this out to have a list of stations along the way so that I know when I am getting close to my exit station.
suec1 is online now  
Apr 4th, 2013, 10:14 AM
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Think about it this way. There are many tracks that trains come in on. You get off the train and walk toward the main part of the terminal (follow everyone else).

Look at the arrival and departure board (similar to airport A/D boards except the may not be digital). Find your train by destination and departure time and then look across for the track number.

You can't do this wrong. If you can get yourself on the first train then every subsequent train will be the same method.

Most people line up with their luggage before the train gets to the station. It should take you 5 minutes to get off the train and get to the next train.

Often the track number is not put up on the board until a few minutes before departure.

Sometimes you have to go downstairs and then go up to cross the tracks - this happens in small stations but it will be obvious.

You will have no problem making a transfer in 30 minutes. You'll even have time to buy a snack.

<< Do we have to go inside the terminal >>

In larger stations the train is inside the terminal so unless you jump off the train early you'll already be inside the terminal!

You might want to review seat61.com for photos.
adrienne is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 10:49 AM
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Often the track number is not put up on the board until a few minutes before departure.

Just wanted to emphasize this point. I'm pretty type A and this made me pretty anxious during my first few Italian train experiences, until I learned to just go with the flow!

Most of the train stations are pretty logically organized. 30 minutes is plenty of time.
jent103 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 10:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Expect stairs up and down at most of the Italian train stations to change platforms when changing trains. There are elevators in many of the stations, but sometimes they are broken or may be at the opposite end of the platform from where you are standing. The bigger stations have escalators up, maybe not down.

It's wise to worry at least a little about delays. You'll probably be OK - but what if you miss a connection, what happens then? Is there another train 30 minutes later? Or is that the last good connection all day? I just like to know this information myself, ahead of time, so I know that if by chance I miss a connection I can get the next train later and not have that mess up my travel day!
Andrew is online now  
Apr 4th, 2013, 11:11 AM
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I'd like to emphasize the already emphasized point about checking the board for the right track. The last time we were in Rome the eventual correct track was rarely the originally posted track.
colduphere is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 11:26 AM
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We just kept track of the time while on the train and if it looked like we would be coming in a bit late (and we did occasionally)we would gather our luggage and wait by the door so we could be one of the first off. Then one of us would walk briskly to the board and find which track we were taking off from and the others would follow him.

With thirty minutes though you will be more than fine. A couple times because of a late arrival we literally had less than five minutes, and one time two minutes, to catch our next train and we managed. Albeit a little stressful, but okay.

If your time is really tight, just remember, as long as you are ON the train do not worry if you are in the correct car. You can always walk between cars if you have to while the train is moving. Sometimes the train is REALLY long and if the connection was really tight, we would just hop on anywhere just so we would not miss it.

Conversely, when we did not have a connection we would sit and wait for the train to empty a bit so we wouldn't be in the way of those trying to make connections.

Train travel is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.
michele_d is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 11:33 AM
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The platforms at Termini are really long, and should you be coming from the airport, you will be coming in at the far end of one of the longest.

There are television monitors, much smaller than in a US airport about halfway to the station itself that you can check, if I remember correctly.

Expect to have to carry your luggage down stairs to the tunnels that allow you to cross under tracks without going all the way into the station. The stairs back up to the various tracks also have information on the trains that will depart there.

But as others say, the only really stressful part is the fact that the track/platform may not be announced until ten minutes before departure. Ditto in France.
Ackislander is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 11:47 AM
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It really depends on your itinerary. In the larger stations (Rome Termini, Milan Centrale, etc.) trains pull in and back out. They are in the station a bit.

In many small stations, trains only pass through and may stop for as little as one minute (you would need to know you were coming to your stop and be at the door with your luggage ready to hop off because they aren't going to wait around on you).

You would really have to list your itinerary before anyone could tell you.
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 4th, 2013, 12:04 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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As a sweeping, but generally accurate, generalisation: in Italy a station big enough to be potentially daunting (like Florence SM, Milan Centrale or Rome Termini) will have all train to train connections on the same level.

Only at relatively small stations will it be necessary to cross from one platform to another by underpass or overhead bridge.

The relatively recent innovation of not declaring the departure platform till 10-15 mins beforehand may strike you as stressful the first time. In fact, though, it works out quite painless, unless you've got serious mobility problems.

To my gobsmacked amazement, a minor problem at a major station a few months ago was handled politely and helpfully by a charming railway employee who even tried to speak English (and anticipated precisely my concern).

When I first started using Italian trains 50 years or so ago, such behaviour would certainly have provoked a strike by her colleagues - unless management fired her first.

Give the volume of passengers now using the system, major Italian railway stations have become unbelievably stress-free places.
flanneruk is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 01:57 PM
Join Date: May 2008
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It is all sounds complicated and confusing, right? I call the 800 number of BudgetEuropeTravel.com. They are in the States. They really know the routes and can make very smart suggestions about train travel. Call Bob there and pick his brain. He helped me with Vienna-Prague-Munich. Nice guy, very knowledgeable.
PeaceOut is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 02:56 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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>>>Only at relatively small stations will it be necessary to cross from one platform to another by underpass or overhead bridge.<<<

Not always. Even in very large stations, you can go under the tracks and it may be quicker than going all the way to the head of the tracks depending on how far back your car is when you get off.

>>>Trenitalia allows ~30 or more minutes to make the transfer.<<<

Trenitalia allows whatever you choose to book. Some trains shouldn't even be booked in advance online so it would be helpful if you stated your actual itinerary.

>>>The platforms at Termini are really long, and should you be coming from the airport, you will be coming in at the far end of one of the longest.<<<

While it's true the platforms are long, I don't think the Leonardo is dropping at the satellite track anymore. It used to drop at satellite track #25 or 26 which made it a very long trek. Now it drops at track #23 or 24.
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 4th, 2013, 03:01 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Track map Termini (choose platform). You can see how far back tracks 25/26 are from the other tracks.


This Trenitalia link doesn't technically say they are arriving at #23/24, but says they depart from there.

kybourbon is online now  
Apr 4th, 2013, 03:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2013
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Thanks to all, very helpful and good advice. Can't believe how quickly y'all responded. Happy travels ...
jldodge is offline  

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