Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Italo trains, Italy's new high-speed train routes

Today I want to review briefly the Italo trains, Italy's new high-speed train routes.

First some background on high speed trains in Italy. For several years we have had the excellent Frecciarossa fast trains belonging to Trenitalia running on the main north-south route from Turin in the north west as far as Salerno in the south, plus the slightly slower Frecciargento trains on routes to popular cities such as Verona, Venice and Bari. The first thing we saw when these fast trains were introduced in Italy was that the standard prices were high on the Frecciarossa. The old trains still run and are much cheaper but also much, much slower. HOWEVER, if you can plan your train travel ahead of time and if you are flexible regarding departure time, then there are a number of discounted rates, the cheapest of which compares with or surpasses the old slow train ticket prices. A little bit of effort on the Trenitalia website can result in major savings, especially if you're booking two to three months ahead. Reservations can be made on-line and tickets are sent by email. The cheapest reservations cannot be changed.

TIP: Look carefully at the discounted offers, especially on the Frecciarossa trains - from time to time you can travel business class for the same reduced price as second class. The seats are much wider and there is much more space in general in the first class / business class carriages.

Some useful information on the difference between First and Second Class on Italian trains.

Note that some but not all American credit cards can present difficulties on the Trenitalia website. However, as of today's date, some US cards definitely work. European cards work without a problem.

The main site for booking Trenitalia trains, including the Frecciarossa is www.trenitalia.com.
Another site seems to be dedicated to the Frecciarossa fast trains only:  
www.fsitaliane.it together with www.lefrecce.it which redirects to www.fsitaliane.it.

Italo trains, Italy's new high-speed train routes
The Italo train, Italy's new high-speed train
So what is the difference between the Frecciarossa and the Italo Italian high speed trains? At present, they are covering very similar routes. There are therefore two main differences. The Italo is competing on the basis of price. Italo standard prices are lower and the speed of the trains is the same. Inside, the Italo trains are very nice indeed. They have the comfortable seats seen in the Frecciarossa, plus WiFi and other facilities. Furthermore, there is excellent on-platform assistance and a dedicated Italo reception area in the stations that the Italo serves. This really makes life easier for tourists.

HOWEVER, the Italo trains often depart from stations other than the main station of any particular city (e.g. Porta Garibaldi rather than Centrale in Milan, and Tiburtina rather than Termini in Rome). For local people or tourists staying in a given town, this is not really a problem since in the bigger cities the relevant station can easily be reached by public transport. However, if you are changing trains, this can be an inconvenience and result in significant lost time. Study the on-line timetable carefully. The Italo is an excellent option in many cases.

This the Italo Train website: www.italotreno.it

Today's top links: For everything you need to know about what to do and where to stay in Chianti: The Chianti Travel Guide and The Greve in Chianti Tuscany Blog.



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