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worried about making train/station connections

Toronto
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worried about making train/station connections

Hi train experts,

We have decided to travel most of our journey through Italy by train.We will rent a car for a few days in Tuscany. Now I am worried about making train connections for the following destinations:

1.Rome to Pontessieve (switching trains at Florence)

2.Pontassieve to Vernazza (switching trains at La Spezia)

3.Vernazza to Turin (switching at Sestri)

I have used the Trenitalia website to find all the available trains and I have noted which schedules work best for us. I will print these out and use to book tickets once in Italy. But, how do I know how much time is given in order to make these connections?? If someone knows where they are going, how long does it take to get to one's connecting train? Is it difficult, or does it just seem that way to me since I have no idea how far apart the trains/stations are from one another. I wish I could just hire someone to be at each station to greet us and lead us to the connecting train. Any takers?? I will pay for this service(lol)

I am also trying to decide what would be least stressful when buying tickets:

1. buying them all at once when we arrive at the airport with a ticket agent or a self-service machine, *or* finding a travel agent close to where we are staying (near Piazza Navona - Vicolo Savelli) and having them do it all for us. Which would you advice for a "newbie" coming to Italy?

Thanks in advance, once again, for your guidance.

J-MOT

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Saint Marys, Ohio
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1. Re: worried about making train/station connections

On the Trenitalia site, once you find the train you want to take, click on SELECT on the right of the screen. Then go to the bottom and click on DETAILS BY SELECTION. You can scroll down below that and see the details of the trip including the amount of time you'll have for getting to your other train.

How long it may take to get to your next train depends on the station you're changing in. In a small station it may take little time because they may only have 1-3 tracks. In a large station they could have many. The biggest worry if you have little time for making a connection is whether or not the train you're on gets delayed for any reason.

Toronto
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2. Re: worried about making train/station connections

Thank you Jerryott,

You just gave me the missing piece of the puzzle: "Details by Selection".

J-mot

Norwich, United...
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3. Re: worried about making train/station connections

To follow on from that, here's an example I made earlier - which should give you an idea of what to look for---

pbase.com/isolaverde/image/126340694/original

In this case there's 37 minutes between trains - which hopefully would be plenty of time to cover any lateness in the first, plus changing platforms.

One tip though: often the trains are going further than you are so the station "Partenze" noticeboards usually show them by departure time, type and their FINAL destination (which may not be yours) - hence it's useful to know that last piece of information.

In the example above there are two trains - 23382 and 9415 - and in Firenze/Florence the passenger would want to know where 9415 ends up, to find it on the boards and get the number of the platform where it will leave from.

There's a useful site that can often help with that - though generally not with Regional trains, like the first of those two:

http://www.e656.net/orario/index.html

Just type the train number into the second box ("Ricerca Treno attraverso il suo numero") and click on "Cerca Treno"

And there we are: "da Venezia Santa Lucia a Roma Termini" - where "da" is from and "a" is to.

Easy this time as the original enquiry ends where the train has its terminus, but you probably get the idea!

Look further down the page, and also note the route, so you know when - or after which stop - to start getting ready to detrain.

No idea who runs that site, and I'd not necessarily rely on it with my life - but it is a quick and easy way of finding that information, which I've not seen on the Trenitalia one provide?

Peter

PS The loudspeaker symbol under "Annuncio sonoro" will even play you a copy of the platform announcement that will be put over the station PA as the train pulls into the relevant stop.

Edited: 09 July 2010, 05:11
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Florence
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Le Marche, Italy
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4. Re: worried about making train/station connections

If you know the train number, you don't need to know the final destination, because the train number is always shown on the departure board. This is why I always suggest printing out schedules for the approximate time you want to travel. They are helpful when looking for your train on the departure board, but they are also a useful reference when you're buying tickets. You can point to the schedule at the ticket window, or refer to it when buying tickets from the machine.

If you're buying tickets for a different date, write the date on each schedule, in European style: day/month/year. Also write the number of adults/teens and number of children 4-11 years of age.

Tallahassee, Florida
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5. Re: worried about making train/station connections

J-MOT: Once you make your first train connection, you'll wonder why you worried so much. I traveled with a friend this past April using the trains and in some cases we only had 10-15 minutes between connections and made every single connection.

In all the train stations that we had connections at, not only is there an official departure board with current train information (usually located in the main terminal) but when you take the stairs down from your track, there is usually a train schedule behind glass that will have the departure times and track numbers. I found it very easy to look for my departure time, look for the train stop/connection, and then look for the track (binario) number. Although that info is obviously subject to change, it never steered us wrong. Sometimes we did not have time to look at the main departure board and always doublechecked when we got to the track. There is always a sign at that track which has the train number, departure time and ending city.

It really is quite easy and by the end of our trip we were amazed that we had no problems making a tight 10 minute connection.

Edited: 09 July 2010, 12:51
Toronto
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6. Re: worried about making train/station connections

Thank you for the info!!

Now, I have a couple of connections to make with only 7 minutes to switch trains! They are at La Spezia Centrale which I think is a small station. But still, 7 minutes is cutting it close. Are the regional trains generally very punctual? Is this station small enough to make this connection if the first train is exactly on time? We will have minimal luggage which will be beside us (or in overhead storage). Should I book these; the next departure wouldn't be for close to an hour so a lot of wasted time, but at least we could use it if our first train was late.

Thanks again everyone!

Illinois
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7. Re: worried about making train/station connections

Usually, the website will not give you a connection that is impossible. That said, I think it depends on what happens if you do miss the connection. If you can still get on the next train, then you might as well go for it. If not, I would book the longer one. Based on train travel in France and UK, that would be enough in a small station if you know how to read the boards to find your platform. If you think you might have trouble, then book the longer one. If you do book the shorter one, make sure you do know the train number, because I've found that to be easier than figuring out the station if you are not going to the last stop. Note that this is based on train travel in France and UK, not in Italy, since I haven't been there yet.

Tallahassee, Florida
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8. Re: worried about making train/station connections

Relatively speaking (compared to a larger station like Florence) La Spezia is a smaller train station so you'll have no problem finding the correct track #. My understanding is that since the train from La Spezia to Vernazza is a local/regional train, you really would have no problem just hopping on the later train if you miss your connection. We did not have just 1 ticket that said from Florence to Vernazza but several tickets and the last one was a regional ticket. Remember to stamp your ticket in the yellow box that's near the platform and as long as you continue your journey within 6 hours, it's OK to take the next regional train to Vernazza. (This does not hold true for travel on the Eurostar).

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Toronto
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9. Re: worried about making train/station connections

Thanks, does anyone now how much earlier can you actually enter the train before its scheduled departure?

Le Marche, Italy
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10. Re: worried about making train/station connections

J-Mot: If your second train is a regional train, the ticket you buy for it will be good for any regional train on that route for the next two months, so there's no worry if you miss the connection. (You'll just have to wait a little.) If you already have a short connection, I wouldn't plan to buy tickets in that short time, as well as find the track. Just buy your tickets for the whole trip.

If the second train is a train that requires reservations, basically all trains except regional trains, I would usually want a little more than 7 minutes to make the connection. If you miss the second train, you'll have to go to the ticket office to change the ticket. Show them the first ticket, so they see that the fault was the late arrival of the first train. Larger stations have a passenger service office that handles these things.

The paper schedules hanging on the walls have the *usual* track number for a given train, but it's not terribly reliable. You must verify it with the electronic departures boards. All of the stations I know have these on monitors scattered all around the station, in addition to the large one in the main departure hall.

There's no way to say how early you'll be able to board a train. If it originates in that station, it could be anywhere from 15 to 5 minutes before departure. You can board as soon as the track number is shown on the electronic departure boards. Often a train arrives from elsewhere and is just making a station stop. In that case, it won't arrive usually until a few minutes before departure time. The track number will be announced in time for you to get there and be ready to board, usually at least 20 minutes in advance.