There are many train-related stories, as I have mentioned previously. Sometimes, you might be waiting on a train to pull up at the platform when something that appears to have been introduced during the period of Italian unification pulls out. It can seem like there is no change to the Italian rail system, but that’s not what I am trying to convey.
However, this is not the reality.
This is the latest change that was brought to my attention from Rebecca. It’s a huge deal if you travel in regional trains throughout Italy.
Italy Train Tickets
You can get your tickets from ItaliaRail before you leave the USA. This company is based in the United States and partners with Trenitalia for real-time connectivity to Italy’s rail reservation system. This allows you to get the lowest fares and the most current availability without needing to translate your itinerary into English. ItaliaRail offers online customer support and most tickets can be downloaded instantly.
Italy Explained is an ItaliaRail affiliate partner. This means that if I refer you to ItalyRail for tickets, I will get a small commission. It doesn’t cost anything extra. We appreciate your support.
How regional train tickets worked
Tickets and reservations for regional trains have been treated as distinct things since I was a traveler in Italy. Each train required a ticket. However, not all trains required reservations. Travelers could purchase a ticket online without having to pay several euros for a reservation.
Travelers who often make the same trip could buy multiple tickets at once, so they didn’t have to stand in long lines to purchase tickets every time. They would validate a ticket prior to boarding a train and give it a date stamp which made it valid for that particular day.
It’s easy, right?
Trenitalia decided that this wasn’t working as they intended. They made some adjustments.
What Regional Train Tickets Are Now
August 2016 All regional Trenitalia train tickets are now equipped with a date and a time limit of four hours within which you can travel.
These same regional tickets can still be purchased in advance. However, you will need to select a travel date online or offline. Your ticket will be valid for four hours. However The Trenitalia website states that a traveller who decides to take a train from Pavia to Milan (R20266) departing at 12.51 from Pavia can leave between 12.51 and 15.51 the same day. This sounds like a three hour window to me.
In any case…
Online tickets will include a date and time frame. You do not need to validate the tickets at the station before you board the train. However, tickets purchased at the station at ticket windows or at machines only have the date and no time. These tickets must still be validated, which begins the four-hour validity period.
Clear as mud?
As my last act before boarding a train, I enjoy the satisfying kahh-thunk of sticking paper tickets in bright orange (or, more recently, slick emerald) machines. It feels official. It feels official. Even if you don’t require it, it can help. Did I mention the satisfying kah thunk?
High-Speed Trains are not affected
This change is only for regional trains. If you rely on Frecce high-speed trains, you don’t have to worry about any changes. Keep this in mind if you are considering a spontaneous day trip to Lucca, Florence. This would be a wasteful use of your Italy Rail Pass. You’ll simply have to pay for the tickets. This is when you will need to be familiar with the new system.
This new information has been added to my EXPLAINED : ITALIAN TRINS book! You can buy your copy now or – if it’s already in your possession (thank you!) Download the latest version to your Kindle.