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Tight train connections?

We will be traveling from Florence to Paris on September 6th, and would like to be able to enjoy the scenery through the Alps by taking the train. We've found what looks like an ideal schedule, leaving Florence at 10 am and arriving at Gare de Lyon in Paris at about 8 pm. My concern is how tight the connections seem to be. In Milan we would have 40 minutes, but in Geneva we would have only 10 minutes to get from EC 34 to TGV 6578. Are European trains set up to allow passengers to get from one train to another in that short a time?

Posted by
1167 posts

Yes. In most places the platforms are within just a few minutes of each other and you can somethimes literally step off one train and on to another on the other side of the same platform.

Posted by
12040 posts

If your train arrives on time, 10 minutes is usually more than enough time. If your train is late... you're out of luck if you had reservations for a TGV or ICE. But for local trains, you just wait about 30 minutes for the next one.

Posted by
5 posts

yeah 10 minutes is enough. If the ec train is running late, just talk to the conducter about other connections. I would say like 99% of the time german, swiss, & austrian trains run on time when it's not winter. the inter network of itialian trains is not the best I would say. If you catch a delay it would more than likly be from the leg getting out of italy

Posted by
687 posts

Ten minutes is plenty for Switzerland, not so much for Italy where trains are more likely to be late, but 40 minutes should be enough even for Italy. If you are running late getting in to Milan, walk through the train to the front to give yourself a head start.

Posted by
1446 posts

Also factor in the "you" specifics: How much luggage that you need to handle and how quickly the slowest member of your party walks & climbs stairs. 10 minutes should be enough, if you are not hampered.
I agree with the other posters' comments about the scheduling. The TGV will leave on time, the EC should arrive on time.

Posted by
2829 posts

Don't do it, and I tell you why. The EuroCity trains linking Milano to Genève are notoriously delayed due to problems with its operational management. It is a remarkably unreliable train. Moreover, you need to go through the Simplon rail tunnel (13mi long), which had one of its bores on fire 2 weeks ago. Repairs are going to take 4 months and, while, traffic is flowing, the probability of an extra delay is large. Allow at least 40 min for that connection in Genève, ideally 60-70.

Posted by
3995 posts

In Geneva a few years ago I was told that our train stopped for 3-4 minutes and that was all of the time we had to get on. I had to get 48 people (mostly college students) and 48 pieces of luggage on one car with 2 doors in that amount of time. I did a dry run and timed the train the night before. I figured out about where the doors would be when the train stopped. When the night arrived I divided the group up into boarders at other doors and a "bucket brigade" of people passing the suitcases on to the 2 open doors (we had reserved two rooms just for the suitcases). You should have seen the Italian car attendant's face when the doors opened. Later he said to me, "we would have waited for you but you did a good job". It looked like a crazy Chinese fire drill when the bells went off and the doors flew open.

Posted by
17 posts

OK, folks. I'm pretty content that the train trip is not a really good idea, as ideal as it sounds. Thank you all for your thoughts. We'll see the Alps from the air.
Carol

Posted by
1825 posts

I had problems with a tight connection. Problems arise if you are trying to catch the last train of the day. Cost me that nights reserved hotel plus a night where were stuck. You probably made a wise choice.

Posted by
7209 posts

The Alps are quite dramatic from the air - at least you'll see them.

Posted by
33339 posts

Hi Carol You know, there are more ways than one to skin a cat. I'm the obstinate one. I would like to help you achieve your goal of seeing the Alps close up, not from 30,000 feet. I'm glad that you have given up on the Geneva route because in addition to stressing you over the connection time I don't think it would have given you the views you crave, as much as an alternate. If you take (using the Bahn website) an earlier train from Firenze (yes, I know - too early for a leisurely late brekkie, oh well) bear with me here.... You can adjust how much time you have between trains. Have a look at: Firenze S.M.N. Tu, 06.09.11 dep 07:00 ES 9502 EuroStar Italia Subject to compulsory reservation, Global price, Snacks and beverages available, space for wheelchairs Bologna Centrale dep 07:40 Milano Centrale Tu, 06.09.11 arr 08:45 Transfer time 25 min. Adjust the transfer time Milano Centrale Tu, 06.09.11 dep 09:10 EC 14 Eurocity Subject to compulsory reservation, Bordrestaurant Como S. Giovanni dep 09:45 Chiasso dep 09:52 4 Lugano dep 10:12 3 Bellinzona dep 10:36 1 Arth-Goldau dep 12:13 4 Zug(CH) dep 12:29 3 Zürich HB Tu, 06.09.11 arr 12:51 4 Transfer time 9 min. Adjust the transfer time Zürich HB Tu, 06.09.11 dep 13:00 15 TGV 9216 TGV Subject to compulsory reservation, Bicycles conveyed - subject to reservation, Global price, Partially, snacks and beverages available Basel SBB dep 14:02 11 Basel SNCF dep Mulhouse Ville dep 14:26 Strasbourg dep 15:15
Paris Est Tu, 06.09.11 arr 17:34 (continued)

Posted by
33339 posts

(continued) You could have a nice 2 hour break in Zurich, which would give you time to have a nice lunch and catch your breath and get the (transfer time 2:09 h ) Zürich HB Tu, 06.09.11 dep 15:00 14 TGV 9218 TGV Subject to compulsory reservation, Bicycles conveyed - subject to reservation, Global price, Partially, snacks and beverages available Basel SBB dep 16:02 9 Basel SNCF dep Mulhouse Ville dep 16:26
Strasbourg dep 17:15 Paris Est Tu, 06.09.11 arr 19:34 and still get in half an hour earlier. The route into Zurich from Milano is beautiful, using the Gotthard Pass and circling round the valleys, at one point seeing the same church three times from different angles as the train gains altitude and spirals in the mountains. It is exquisite. The route to Geneve uses the Simplon tunnel and the wide fast Rhone Valley and I don't think you get as much for your travel $. Call me a romantic, but if you want to see fantastic scenery that's the way, not from an airline seat. Means getting up earlier, a longer day, but hopefully a more relaxing one and the views make up for it. Happy trails...

Posted by
837 posts

I can only speak to Swiss and Austrian trains. In getting from Lauterbrunnen to Saltzburg, we had to make 5 or 6 changes, with transfer times ranging from 3 to 10 minutes. No problem in Switzerland. Austria is different story. Used 3 Austrian trains and all were significantly late. Moral: don't fret over short transfer times involving Swiss trains.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks everybody. Nigel, I had looked at that route and had rejected it only because it brings us into Paris Est which is farther from our apartment on Ile St. Louis than the Gare de Lyon. But the description of the route is enticing. In your message you say "adjust" the connection time. It's my understanding that you can't just pass up a train and catch the next one unless it's a local train, and these are not. What am I missing?

Posted by
33339 posts

In order to answer the last question about "passing up" trains I have to ask a question or two. How are you paying for your train travel? Are you intending to use a pass or passes or are you buying point to point tickets, in advance or on the day? Your answer will dictate our response. BTW - it would be a shame to miss a nice route because of the Paris station. Cité is only 6 or 7 stops on Métro ligne No. 4 straight from Gare de l'Est.

Posted by
17 posts

We have a few rail trips planned. One will be a day trip from Rome to Pompeii and back. Next will be Rome to Florence. Next, Florence to Paris. All of that will happen between Aug. 28 and Sept. 6. We do want to go out to the Normandy beaches while we're in Paris (Sept. 6 - 27). Does all of that warrant the purchase of a pass, or would it be better to do it all point to point?

Posted by
4411 posts

Carol, don't forget that the airports are even farther from Ile St Louis ;-) On bahn.com, that website lets you choose how long you want your connection time to be (if you don't like what it automatically gave you). I think Nigel just copied the info into his post so that you got all of the info...it wasn't a 'command' from him to 'adjust the connection time'; he was just being very thorough.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks, Eileen. I realize that, now that I've visited the Bahn site. We've decided to go by train and add the 2 hour layover in Zurich. Since we're going to use trains 4 days while we're there, we think the 3-country Pass Saver will give us the best value. It also give us a 5th day where we have the option to hop on the train and do another day trip out of Paris to someplace if we feel like it. If Rick's-point to-point map is even close to accurate, the pass is by far the better buy. According to that map, our first-class one-way trip from Florence to Zurich to Paris would be $825 just by itself. That's what two Passes would cost and they would cover all of our travel for the whole trip. Am I missing something?