The Italian railway network, managed by Trenitalia S.p.A., spans over 16,000 km. Connections with France run along the Nice-Ventimiglia-Genoa coastline and through the Frejus tunnel via Modane, Bardonecchia, and Turin. The lines from Switzerland run through the Sempione Pass tunnel and across Ticino Canton from the Chiasso border crossing towards Milan. The Brennero and Tarvisio lines link Italy to Austria and then to central and western Europe. There are also a few private railway companies. The rail network is adequately developed and widespread, especially between major urban centers and tourist areas.
The Italian railway network
The railway is connected to the two main islands, Sardinia and Sicily, by means of ferries departing from Civitavecchia (Rome) and Villa San Giovanni (Reggio Calabria). The fastest trains operate on the networks between the major cities while the regional trains are fairly slow. It is also fairly cheap and efficient.
Trains in Italy are classified as follows:
(high speed trains)
This high-speed train service covers many internal as well as intra-European routes with modern air-conditioned cars. Some seats are provided with electrical supply (European type) and tables suitable for laptops. Freccia Rossa, Freccia Bianca, Freccia Argento trains require payment of a supplementary fare. Reservations are necessary.
The main category of express trains used in domestic service. All the cars are air-conditioned. Dining facilities are provided as indicated on the schedules. IC Intercity trains require payment of a supplementary fare, which is waived for holders of Eurail or BTLC passes. Seats may be reserved if desired.
EC Eurocity Express trains used in international service, subject to IC Intercity supplementary fare and rules.
These type of trains is operated by a joint venture between Italian and Swiss rail companies. The service is express as in IC Intercity trains and the routes connect the main cities of Central and Northern Italy with the Swiss main cities. On the CIS Cisalpino trains is required the payment of a supplementary fare and reservations are necessary as in ES Eurostar trains; dining cars are available.
Local trains, not necessarily making all the stops on a route. First class is offered on the IR Interregionale only.
On long-distance trains, there are restaurant or self-service cars. Sleeping cars and couchettes must be booked in advance. Bicycles can be shipped on many trains marked with a special symbol (one per passenger, up to capacity). It is also possible to transport cars along the main tourist lines. Rates are calculated based on the distances traveled and vehicle size. “Treno+auto”, a car hiring service, is available at main rail stations. Rail schedules, displayed in the stations and also given in specific publications available for purchase at news-stands, show the services each train offers.
train except REG Regionale and DIR Diretto
are possible on every kind of train except REG Regionale and DIR Diretto. Reservations are mandatory on ES Eurostar and CIS Cisalpino trains. Reservation minimum notice is five minutes before departure on ES Eurostar and CIS Cisalpino, and three hours on IC Intercity trains. Although simple seat reservations can be made in ticket offices, through automated machines located in the stations and online, reservations for particular services, like sleeping cars and car transport, should be made through travel agencies.
First and second class rail tickets, which have different rates, can be purchased at station ticket windows, through automated machines located in the stations, online (www.trenitalia.com) or in authorized travel agencies. For ES Eurostar, IC Intercity, EC Eurocity, CIS Cisalpino and generally all trains requiring bookings, a supplement is charged along with the ticket price. Tourist groups, persons over 60 or under 26 years of age, and families are usually entitled to special reductions on rail fares, but the conditions are subject to change frequently.
Travelers must validate their tickets with the special stamping machines located along the station platforms. Stamped tickets must be used within six hours of validation. It is extremely important to validate your ticket before boarding to avoid fines.
To purchase tickets:
– From USA: visit www.trenitalia.com-USA to have list of authorized dealers companies.
– From Canada: visit www.trenitalia.com-Canada to have list of authorized dealers companies.
Refund for Rail Passes
Application for refund of unused tickets must be submitted at the office where the tickets were purchased within one year of issuance. All unused tickets must be stamped “unused” by an official of the European Rail Roads. All refunds are subject to a 15% cancellation charge plus administration fees. Tickets purchased in Europe cannot be refunded in the U.S. Note: Rates are subject to change without notice.
The Italian railways net is well equipped to help people with disability. More than 150 Italian railway stations have a reception service for disabled travelers. This service must be booked at least 24 hours in advance. There are seats reserved for travelers with disabilities on each Italian train but these seats are not accessible if you can’t move from your wheelchair to the seat. There are fully accessible special compartments in first class special wagons. These compartments have space for 2 wheelchairs and 2 ablebodied companions. These compartments are equipped with an accessible toilet too. The assistance with portable lifts is provided by the railways staff at no extra cost.