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Trains in Italy

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Apr 4th, 2016, 12:01 PM
  #1
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Trains in Italy

Hi
I am travelling from Vernazza in the Cinque Terra and would appreciate help with booking trains to Venice. We are travelling on June 30th so will wait for the new timetable for regional trains but I can book the Intercity or Frecciargento trains now.
Questions and concerns:
1.) I’m concerned about transfer times at stations.
2.) Reasons to go via Milan rather than Florence.
3.) Knowing about connecting regional trains now so I can book the Intercity trains.
The train leaving La Spezia at 13:35 is a regional train. It is direct to Florence so I rekon that it’s simpler not to have to transfer in Pisa if one can avoid it. That is a regional train so can I be sure that it will run in the newer timetable as I would have to book the leg from Florence to Venice.
Here there is only a transfer time in Florence of 23 minutes. Is that enough time? Also – what about transfer times at these stations:
We’d leave Vernazza at 10:44 arriving La Spezia at 11:50
Transfer times
At La Spezia – 18 min
At Pisa – 15 min.
At Florence – 58 min.

IF I WENT VIA MILAN ( Vernazza , Monterosso, Milan, Venice) there are only Intercity trains and Frecca trains so I can book all the way through. However, there is a transfer time of only 15 mins in Milan.
If you miss the connection I would presume you will be put on the next train if the first one is delayed but what if you don’t manage the 15 minutes transfer time. I am fit and only have a carry on but do not know the layout of the train station.

Would appreciate your comments.
Thanks!
ruthtarley is offline  
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Apr 4th, 2016, 12:26 PM
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Local people would most probably travel all by regional trains, like Vernazza dp 11.44 - Venice ar 16.18 and wouldn't therefore have any problem with prebooking and ticket excange in the case of train delays.
neckervd is offline  
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Apr 4th, 2016, 12:26 PM
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I suggest you wait and book your tickets on June 12. The times won't change that much. Personally I'd prefer a longer journey with 2 changes instead of 3.
And 15 minutes is plenty of time, as the train number may not be posted before then.
RonZ is offline  
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Apr 4th, 2016, 01:26 PM
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Normally trains are fairy on time but no one can say what will happen on any given train - not unusual to be late - teh easy solution is to do as neckervd says - take local trains the whole way via Milan - and go first class and have it nearly empty IME of 1st class on regional trains (not all R trains have first class however) - yes slower and stop much more but slower can be nice too - you can see the towns better than high-speed trains either avoid or blow thru. For lots of good info on Italian trains check www.seat61.com - great info on discounted trains; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Again with all regional trains you just buy your ticket once there and can get on and off any R train on that routing the whole day on the same ticket. Booking high-speed trains brings up the time to connect problem and stations like Florence can be rather hectic upon first encounter with dozens of tracks and again late trains always possible.
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Apr 4th, 2016, 03:56 PM
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Milan and Florence SMN are both "laid out" in a similar fashion, that is with so-called stub end tracks. This means a bunch of different tracks with individual platforms that all end at a perpendicular walkway.

THE big difference between these two stations is in their size. Milan is much larger and there is a huge suspended electronic board with the trains and their track numbers listed that you can see from a ways off.

If the arriving train is on time IMO 15 minutes to change is enough time but here is what I would do: station yourself at the door of the car BEFORE the train comes to a stop (people will start moving toward the door as the train approaches the station). Get off immediately and start moving toward your connection.

With 58 minutes you can almost stop and take a few selfies on the way.
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Apr 4th, 2016, 04:29 PM
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In my experience, R trains are schedule challenged. The R trains that run between Sestri Levante and La Spezia are very schedule challenged. Once you get there you know why. The CT have gotten so popular the R trains connecting villages can no longer unload and load passengers on schedule. Last fall, every R train I took were 15 to 25 minutes late. I would be leery of R train followed by another R train. Pisa Centrale is not a bad place to change train. Once you get there, there are many R trains heading to Firenze. I would not wait out in La Spezia just to catch a non-change train. You are back loading the risks. You want to front load the risks where you have more time to deal with them.

>>> If you miss the connection I would presume you will be put on the next train if the first one is delayed

If you are interested discussion on this subject, here is something that makes your head spin.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...een-trains.cfm

Since you are traveling in mid-day, you can include a reusable safety buffer between a schedule challenged train and Freaccia train - lunch time in Pisa Centrale or Firenze. If you get time crunched, have a quick lunch or buy lunch at a station and eat on the train or even buy lunch on the Freccia train. If everything aligned and you have a lot of time, have leisurely lunch in Pisa or Firenze. You are in Italy after all.
greg is offline  
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Apr 5th, 2016, 12:52 AM
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Italian trains are normally on time, but, if they are going to be late they will be regionale
bilboburgler is offline  
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Apr 5th, 2016, 03:00 AM
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Hi,

I absolutely disagree with the advice to take earlier trains that require connections rather than go for a later train without connections. Everytime you make a connection, you run an extra risk. Bear in mind that in Italy, the IC trains get priority on the tracks, and will force Regional trains to sit idle until the IC passes if the IC needs to move faster to meet its schedule (Trenitalia has to refund late IC arrivals, not regionals). On the Italian Riviera, there are not a lot of tracks due to the narrowness of the topography. You are always better off taking an IC train, even if it leaves later in the day.

I live on the Italian Riviera and the best way to go from le Cinque Terre is to take a local train to a station where you can catch the non-stop IC train to Milan that runs about 11am every day, and it is numbered 666. Can you make that train? I pick it up fairly close to Genoa, so I'm not sure where you get it closer to le Cinque Terre. Choices probably are Le Spezia, Chiavari, Rapallo.

When I take that train, I have a 15 minute connection in Milan to the next train I usually take to Bologna. I have never missed the connection.

I suspect Dukey has never been in the entirety of Santa Maria Novella. It is actually as large as Milano Centrale.

Any train in Italy can be delayed, due to bad weather or unforseen circumstances. I have been on Freccia Rossa trains that were more than an hour late reaching their destinations. I have traveled from the Italian Riviera to Florence and had delays of more than an hour.

If you begin worrying that your train is not going to make it into the Milan or Florence station at the scheduled time, and you have a tight connection, walk to the front of the train (through the cars) with your luggage and wait at the doors of the first car to exit quickly.
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Apr 5th, 2016, 03:04 AM
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Also want to emphasize that I absolutely disagree with the advice to take regional trains on the Italian Riviera, especially to string them together for long distance travel. I am a local, and I don't take them, even shorter distances. The ICs are the most punctual, the most comfortable, and you can reserve them in advance, so that's my recommendation.
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Apr 5th, 2016, 03:50 AM
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what sandra says
bilboburgler is offline  
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Apr 5th, 2016, 04:04 AM
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Sandralist, you are, like the pigeons which fly in and out of Centrale, FULL OF IT.
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Apr 5th, 2016, 06:46 AM
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Well I at least have enjoyed my many R train rides but then I'm not in a hurry - like the freedom of just showing up with a ticket that lets me take any R train - IC trains however are not that high-priced on a walk-up basis either if you want flexibility. I hate pegging in a time weeks ahead of time and not being able to change it at that rate.

Man Milano Centrale seems more bigger and busier than Florence SMN but have to believe sandralist's take on that - surprising as it is but both are large and hectic to a first-time encounterer.
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Apr 5th, 2016, 10:20 AM
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how do you measure the size of a station, numbers of people, length of platforms, numbers of carriages that visit daily, length of line within the terminal, volume of enclosed space????
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Apr 5th, 2016, 12:51 PM
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http://www.wandrian.com/blog-fulton/...tions-in-italy

Well sandra was wrong according to this - Rome Termini #1 largest; Milano Centrale #2 largest and Turin has # 3.

But Florence SMN is still a large busy hectic station with last-minute track changes IME not unusual due to congestions - not being big enough actually.
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Apr 6th, 2016, 03:06 AM
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I'm not sure what necker means by traveling "regional trains all the way", as I don't think he could mean all the way to Venice, which I'm not sure is even possible. Since all the trains leaving Vernazza are regional trains, and since you'd probably have to travel by reserved train at least on the final stretch, you'd need to travel by a mix of the two. I also agree with Sandra that I (an Italian resident) would prefer an Intercity train over the regional train: not that I consider it more comfortable, but because, as she says, the regional train is more likely to run late.

What I normally do when I need to use a mix of regional and reserved trains, where the connection between regional and reserved train is not guaranteed, is to find the itinerary suggested by Trenitalia, and then take an earlier regional train to be sure of making that connection.

I also agree with Sandra in that I always choose the route with fewer connections, even if the trip takes longer.

In this particular case, I like the following itinerary shown by Trenitalia.

Vernazza 10:38 -> Monterosso 10:41 regional
Monterosso 10:54 -> Milan 13:50 InterCity
Milan 14:05 -> Venice 16:40 Frecciabianca

The non-guaranteed connection in Monterosso is rather tight, so I'd then check out regional trains to Monterosso that leave earlier than 10:38. I'd probably leave Vernazza on the 10:13 train, which would give me almost half an hour to make the connection. Maybe I'd even take the 9:43.
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Apr 6th, 2016, 08:10 AM
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"I'm not sure what necker means by traveling "regional trains all the way", as I don't think he could mean all the way to Venice, which I'm not sure is even possible"

So, you may have a look at a timetable, like Europeans use to do before boarding a train:

La Spezia dp 10.12 by Regionale 11928 - Parma ar 12.06
Parma dp 12.56 by Regionale 2277 - Bologna ar 14.08
Bologna dp 14.27 by Regionale 2236 - Venezia SL ar 16.18

BTW: in the worst case, the next regionale would leave Bologna C just 1 hr later
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Apr 6th, 2016, 08:10 AM
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I'm not sure what necker means by traveling "regional trains all the way", as I don't think he could mean all the way to Venice, which I'm not sure is even possible.>

direct regional trains roll hourly between Milano Centrale and Venice S L - taking however 4.25 hours - but direct and no need to book early or reserve - buy a thru regional train ticket at Vernazza - but I too would take the faster trains which I do find more comfy than regional trains.
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Apr 6th, 2016, 10:21 AM
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"direct regional trains roll hourly between Milano Centrale and Venice SL"

Not really, you will have to change trains at Verona PN, with a layover of about 1 hr.

The only Regionali itinerary which makes sense goes via the scenic Pontremolese railway line and Parma (cf my post above).
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Apr 6th, 2016, 10:27 AM
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Not really, you will have to change trains at Verona PN, with a layover of about 1 hr.- Great for folks wanting to take a quick look at Verona - say for 2-3 hours then catch the next R train to Venice.
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Apr 6th, 2016, 11:13 AM
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I did say I "wasn't sure" it was possible to travel all the way to Venice by regional train. I didn't bother trying to find out whether it was, because I would have ruled it out on time and number of connections.
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