Please sign in to post.

6 minutes to the next train...seriously?

Step up and guide the rookie!!!!
1: Florence to Pisa to La Spezia to Vernazza with 6 minutes to change trains both times.
OR
2: Florence to La Spezia to Vernazza with 43 minutes to find the second train.

Two things to know: Overall, the second option is about 30 minutes longer. This will be our second train excursion ever (first is Venice to Florence high-speed train).

I'm all for getting there the fastest route but 6 minutes between trains?

Cast your vote. Just remember: MAJOR encouragement must accompany any votes for route #1.

thanks,
Peg

Posted by
1994 posts

It certainly is possible to make a 5 or 10 minute connection, but I avoid it whenever possible. I figure I can do without the extra excitement… I think whether it makes sense to try depends on your energy, agility, and ease in handling your own luggage.

If you decide to do this, make sure you're at the door with your luggage well before the train stops, so you can be one of the first ones off the train. Hopefully you'll have very little luggage; ensure you can handle your luggage by yourself (including up and down stairs). Also, this is not the time to be too polite; just move when the train stops. The conductors on the platform have always been really helpful in pointing me to the correct platform for the new train.

Posted by
6277 posts

I have managed 5-6 minute (or less) changes but I must say it does add a bit of stress to the journey. I would also say that if there is a cost difference it might influence my decision - I wouldn't choose option 1 just to save 30 mins, but I might choose it to save 30 euro.

Posted by
31255 posts

Peg,

Are you planning to use a departure from Firenze SMN at 10:28, arriving Vernazza at 13:20, with changes at Pisa Centrale and La Spezia Migliarina? A transfer time of six minutes is quite normal and shouldn't be hard to manage (but of course don't stop for coffee).

When you arrive in Pisa, disembark and check the electronic board for the track number (Binario) of your next train. You'll likely have to go down stairs to a tunnel (Sottopassagio) and then up more stairs to your next platform. Board your train and continue to the next destination. I've never travelled through La Spezia Migliarina, so not sure of the layout there but it will probably be the same. I suspect that's a very small station, so it should be very easy to navigate.

One point to note is that if you use that route, all three trains will be Regionale, so DON'T forget to validate your tickets prior to boarding the train on the day of travel, or you'll risk hefty fines which will be collected on the spot!

Posted by
3882 posts

Maybe the trains are better, but in 2008, our experience on the 'slow' trains was they seemed to overshoot arrival, meaning a tight connection wouldn't have been possible (I'm pretty sure our slow Rome-Pisa train ended up at least 20 min late...or more (it seems to me like it was 40 min, but this was in 08 and my memory is fuzzy - I just rem watching my watch and seeing that arrival was later and later)...it made a lot of stops - lesson learned to take faster trains). And after missing a connection in Milan - we originally had I think about 15-20 min, but ended up with about 4 min - and not knowing which track - and finding the track just as the train was pulling out and having to wait an hour for the next train (which set off a comedy of errors involving wrong trains and more missed stops, arriving in Bologna at 10pm instead of 6pm)...I wouldn't chance it...

...and our other dumb lesson we learned (our first trip - we learned a lot about trains) - if it says 'via...' - don't get off at that stop. We were going from Pisa to Cinque Terre, the ticket said via Carrera, so we thought that meant to get off and change trains there....uh....no...another hour wait for the next train. We did so many stupid things on that trip involving trains (also got off one stop past where we should have in Naples and...you guessed it, had to wait an hour for the next train to go back....sigh).

Posted by
83 posts

Thanks all for your advice. Glad to know I'm not the only one who considers 6 minutes tight. I'm sure the stations are small (relatively) but not sure I'm up for THAT kind of excitement. Your routing is correct Ken, and I'll add those words to my "cheat sheet". I'll check prices using next weeks schedule...but can't imagine the cost difference to weigh in as much of a factor.

Peg

Posted by
21032 posts

Actually need to know what level of trains you are using. I assume Regionale trains. If that is the case, then I would not worry about. With a Regionale train ticket you can get on any train heading in the correct direction. If you miss it with a six minute connection then catch the next Regionale train which could be 30 mins to an hour later. If it is a train with reserved seating then I would book a wider connection especially for a rookie. An experience train traveler could make it. However, under the new rules, your reserve train ticket is dead the moment the train leaves the station regardless of the class of ticket.

Posted by
83 posts

Thinking to stick with Regionale routes. (At least one option has a high speed in the mix...my luck I'd forget to validate my ticket after that segment!) Will probably buy tickets a couple days before the trek.

Thanks for sharing your lessons Nicole!
Peg

Posted by
8889 posts

It depends on the country, and on how big the station is you have to change at.

Italy - 6 minutes no way. Expect the incoming train to be 10-20 minutes late. But if there is a fallback train ½ hour later then it would be worth the risk.

Switzerland - 6 minutes no worry. Even Zürich Hauptbahnhof (a large station) has advertised connections of 10 minutes. It takes about 5 minutes to walk from one end of the station to the other, but you can 99.5% guarantee your incoming train will be on time, and for the other 0.5% there will be another train in 30 minutes.

Germany - They often do connections where the two trains pull in on opposite sides of the same platform, wait for passengers to cross over then start simultaneously on parallel tracks. Most of the time it works, but German Inter-Cities can be spectacularly late (30 minutes), in which case they automatically transfer you to the next connections, ask the guard.

France - somewhere in between.

Britain - I have done 6 minute changes, but expect a 25% failure rate. 20 minutes is safer.

Posted by
25120 posts

Italy - 6 minutes no way. Expect the incoming train to be 10-20 minutes late.

I regularly ride Italian trains - Regionale, Regionale Veloce, InterCity, EuroCity, the 3 levels of Freccia and the new maroon private .Italo trains.

In the last 5 years I remember being 25 minutes late once (Regionale Venice to Trieste due to a failed locomotive last month), 7 minutes late (Regionale Veloce Parma to Bologna due to police responding to make an arrest for I don't know what), 3 minutes late (nonstop FrecciaRossa from Roma Termini to Milano Centrale), and 11 minutes late (EuroCity Basel SBB to Milano Centrale held at the border by a joint Italian Swiss border police operation which detained and removed several people traveling in my carriage).

After the dozens of Italian trains I have ridden in that 5 years I think that's a pretty good record.

I guess that I must be the exception and must much better luck than others.

I disagree with the comment in the previous post.

Posted by
7205 posts

Give yourself the extra time especially since you're a rookie at this.

Posted by
3882 posts

That is the wonderful thing about European trains - if you do miss one, unless it is late at night, it isn't that long until another one comes along. Here where I live - if you miss the Via Rail, it only runs 3 (or 4) days a week now from Nova Scotia to central Canada - so if you miss it, you are sh!t out of luck!

Having been back over a few times (and always back to Italy)...we learned not to 'cheap out' on the trains. Now, I always look at time vs money (and for me, time is money). If the fast train doesn't cost much more (say, 10-15 euro vs slow train) but arrives 60min + earlier, I'd pay the extra to give me more time in the place I'm going instead of wasting it sitting on a train...works for longer distances obviously, as opposed to short trips.

When we did the Rome-Pisa portion of our trip, we planned on having 3 hours or so to wander to the Tower before having to catch the train to Cinque Terre. Because of the late arrivals, we ended up only having 2 hrs (the more I think of it, the more I'm sure the train was 40-60 min late after all the delays and stops). We had to rush thru a little more - because we had to get to Corniglia (CT) by 7pm as we thought that was the last time the shuttle bus ran to the village center and we didn't want to schlepp up the hundreds of steps to the top with our bags. Throw in there our screw up getting off in Carrera and we had some panicky moments. But we made the shuttle.

For my upcoming trip in Sept, I finally prebooked the fast train from Rome to Venice to get a good discount. I don't necessarily liked to be tied into a rigid schedule in case I want to linger (in 2010, I thought of booking Venice-Florence in advance and was glad I didn't as we ended up lingering in Venice for another 2-3 hrs after we thought we'd go - I love Venice, it was a gorgeous sunny day - what can I say?!).

Posted by
3697 posts

We could hear it in your words; take Option 2. No reason to stress, and you'll have time for a cup of coffee in La Spezia.

Posted by
31255 posts

peg,

I'll check prices using next weeks schedule...but can't imagine the cost difference to weigh in as much of a factor.

On the Option 1 schedule that I commented on earlier, you'll be using a Regionale Veloce for the first leg and two Regionale trains for the next two legs. Prices won't change for those regardless of when you buy them. I'd suggest buying the tickets at Firenze SMN the day prior to travel, and then just validate prior to boarding the train on the day of travel. DO NOT validate the tickets when you buy them, as they have a "shelf life" once validated, and will be expired when you go to use them (meaning you'll get nicked with a hefty fine collected on the spot!).

I really don't see a problem with a six minute change, as that's a considered a legal time frame and thousands of Italians deal with that every day. You'll know the train numbers of each leg, so just check the electronic board to find the new track (Binario) number of your next train, and move smartly to the next platform. I'm sure you'll get the hang of it very quickly. If you should happen to miss a train, not to worry as there will likely be another one along in an hour so so.

Hopefully Roberto will spot this Thread, as I'm sure he will be able to offer some good advice.

Posted by
83 posts

Thanks all SO much. Your advice is much appreciated. Thinking to go with option 2, the longer but calmer route and get that cup of coffee!!!

Peg

Posted by
31255 posts

peg,

I assume that Option 2 is the departure from Florence at 09:53, also arriving in Vernazza at 13:20. If so that's only 35 minutes longer than Option 1 but 43 minutes is a LONG layover, especially at Migliarina. I don't believe there's a Bar (Cafe) there OR more importantly no WC's. There's probably a Bar in the vicinity though where you can get a coffee. Hopefully someone else can confirm that.

Posted by
83 posts

Wow- thanks for the details.
Maybe I'll give hubby and daughter a vote...see how lucky they feel!
Peg