What's the deal???

Nov 15th, 2007, 01:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 332
What's the deal???

We just returned from 3 weeks in Italy. Can someone clear this train confusion for me? We traveled on the regional trains on 4 different occasions. We bought our tickets from agents and traveled 2nd class. Here's what happened. The first time we got on a crowded train and found seats in a compartment. After awhile it became apparent that some passengers had seat assignments and we ended up on jump seats. On the next two occasions we sat wherever we wanted and no one seemed to be looking for assigned seats. On our final trip again some people had assignments and they were displacing those who were in their seats. So, where did the assigned seats come from? One time I asked the ticked agent if the seats were assigned and he said no. We never figured out the system!
rpowell is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 01:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,605
On non-high speed trains, a seat reservation isn't mandatory...so some people must buy them while others don't. There will be a card/sign of some kind posted by the seats to indicate if they are reserved.
Travelnut is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 01:55 PM
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And the OP can buy the reservations too.
rkkwan is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 05:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,320
Hi RP,

>We bought our tickets from agents...

Your TA should have asked you if you wanted seat reservations.

On ES* and AV seats are assigned.

On IC reservations are optional.

On R trains, there are no seat res.

ira is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 05:45 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 101
A question for Ira.....
Am I correct in believing that I can turn up at the railway station and buy a ticket for an IC train that is about to depart (as I can do for a Regionale)?
And if all the seats on the IC have been reserved, I can still get on but will have to stand?
Pammca is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 05:49 AM
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Some of your ":regional" trains were probably IC (Intercity) trains. As others have stated, you could have purchased an optional seat reservation along with your ticket.

The reservation is provided as a separate ticket (or at least it used to be that way). In this manner, you could guarantee a seat on a possibly corwded train on a specific time. However, if you chose not to take that particular IC train, the reservation would be useless but you could still use your actual ticket on any IC train between the same two places.


The Slow Travel website explains all you ever need to know about Italian trains, including this particular newer detail.

"Starting January 2005, all Intercity trains have some seats that are not reserved. These seats are available for the travelers without a reservation. In any car, seats numbered 71 to 88 (second class) or 71 to 86 (first class) are available for travelers without seat reservations. These seats are occupied quite fast, so if you don't have a reservation make sure to be among the first to board the train so you can grab one of these seats.

All other seats in the car should be considered reserved. If the unreserved section is full, you can seat in any vacant seat, but you will have to give up the seat if someone who has reserved it arrives. They may get on at any station on your route. Sitting in the empty seat first, does not mean that seat is yours."

ellenem is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 06:10 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2,206
>And if all the seats on the IC have been reserved, I can still get on but will have to stand?

altamiro is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 06:14 AM
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Posts: 78,339
ellenem has it exactly right - certain seats on IC trains are open for first comers but most are reserved and the casual traveler would not know that because i think there are few indications that seats are reserved

so sans reservations head to the rows ellen indicates and if full wait for someone to get off at the next stop
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 06:36 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2,206
>We never figured out the system!

The system is pretty easy. There are tickets (for getting from A to B) and there are seat reservation (for guaranteed comfort while getting from A to B). If you travel without reservation a t busy time, you take your chances with a seat - but still get at your destination at the same time as people who spent extra money to guarantee themselves a seat.
altamiro is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 06:51 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 332
Thanks for the enlightenment! We delt with 4 different TA and were never asked if we wanted reservations and we never knew to ask.
rpowell is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 06:55 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,184
Before January 2005, little tickets/markers would be placed near each seat, designating if it had been reserved and for what part of the trip.

For example, a train's full route might be from Rome to Venice, but the seat marker might have shown a reservation for just the Florence to Bologna portion of the trip. Thus you could see at a glance that an unoccupied seat would be perfect for you if you were traveling this train just from Rome to Florence.

This system was discontinued because it required that someone spend a lot of time placing these seat markers at the beginning of each trip. Now you must just take a chance on finding a seat that is no reserved, or rush to get one of the few seats that are never reserved.
ellenem is offline  
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