Please sign in to post.

Extreme Fine on Train from Rome Airport

Yesterday, my son and a friend took the Leonardo Express from Fiumicino Airport to the Termini Station. They do not speak or read Italian and were unaware that they had to 'validate' the train ticket prior to boarding. The train conductor fined them both 50 Euros cash. Not only that, the official was abusive and threatened to call the police if they did not pay it. Has anyone had a similar experience? Do you think this should be reported somewhere?

Posted by
208 posts

Our RS tour guide got a fine the day our tour started. She lives in Italy and was just in a rush and was on a crowded tram and forgot to validate. She said she had never fogotten before and wouldn't you know the one and only time she ever did, she was busted. She wouldn't pay the fine right away and was to go to the courts. She said she was probably going to have to pay about 250 euros.

Posted by
805 posts

Unforunately you made a common mistake and they were right to fine you. There is a reason Rick's book, among others, states that you must be sure to "validate" your ticket before boarding. Granted the guy maybe should have been nicer to them but he was in the right to do what he did.

Posted by
2196 posts

Jenny,

This procedure is the law in Italy... and you will get no satisfaction calling any Italian authorities. If you do not validate your ticket then the perception is you will try and use it again - thus taking the train for free. It is the same as NOT having a ticket in the eyes of the conductor. Unfortunately, the ATAC Inspectors (Bus & Metro) and Train Conductors have no tolerance for folks not following their rules. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse in their eyes.

The fine is an automatic E50 and must be paid on the spot. Often I see Italians escorted off the bus and to an ATM to get cash to pay their fine. If you choose not to pay then the fines on the spot, you go to the magistrate, and the fines will start at E100 and go up to E500. It's a serious deterrent.

Sorry to hear your son had this bad experience; I've had friends who forgot their tickets and also were fined... Italian authorities sometimes enforce the law sporadically and/or inconsistently but when they do, they do it with force and authority.

Hope their trip gets better...

Ciao,
Ron

Posted by
21726 posts

It is called being prepared and doing a little homework. Young kids and conductor assumed they were trying to cheat -- and sometimes they are. Call it an expensive lesson but normal. But it would be "nicer" if they were hit with a 10E fine and had the ticket validated. But it is their country and we are the guests.

Posted by
509 posts

Not understanding the terms of specific modes of travel is part of the European "experience", as is paying for your travel "education".

Years ago, I took a ferry from Malmo Sweden to Germany. This was prior to reunification of Germany. It wasn't until I landed in East Germany that my mistake was apparent, made even more clear by men in uniform pointing their rifles at me and indicating that I could not disembark and must return to Sweden. In a language I couldn't understand, of course. They were polite enough, but having a rifle pointed at one's torso never leads to warm fuzzy feelings. I had to pay for the return fare to Sweden, then a new fare from Malso to West Germany. Not to mention the many hours of boat time back and forth. Seemed an expensive experience at the time, but has been priceless since and one which I will always remember.

Always expect the unexpected, especially when you don't know the local language or customs. Roll with it. That's what travel is all about.

Posted by
18312 posts

In Germany, tickets for regular trians are cancelled by the conductor and don't have to be pre-cancelled, but most tickets of the metro areas, U-Bahns and trams, in particular, do have to be cancelled. You will know by the words "Hier Entwerten" printed on one end. Be sure to insert that end of the ticket, words up, in the machine. They can fine for for stamping the wrong side of the ticket.

Posted by
21726 posts

Elli it has been explained over and over and over on this site and others. In Italy you validate in the little yellow boxes generally at the head of the track area. This is for tickets that do not specify a certain time and seat. If it is an open ticket that can be used at anytime then it must be validated.

Posted by
365 posts

This mistake is understandable. Our family took the same train last year, and I had read in advance about validating the ticket so I knew it had to happen somewhere. I found it's not simply a matter of inserting your ticket into the yellow box...it seems one is supposed to insert it into one side of the machine and slide it sideways. It took me awhile to figure it out and there weren't others performing this function so I could see how it's done. I can see how a young person would not know about the machines if he doesn't observe them being used. The concept of buying a bunch of tickets in advance and only validating them when they're used is not common at all in the US. Our experience is that one buys a ticket and hands the ticket to someone when they board or the driver observes each person to ensure they pay. It's easy to make a mistake in Europe, where nobody makes sure you have a ticket, but a European boarding an inbound Sound Transit or Metro bus looking for the validation machine will get no further than the driver. In other words, a violation and accompanying fine are not possible.

Posted by
805 posts

This is true throughout Europe and the validation machines are located either next to the tracks or at the entrances to them. It does only apply for non-reservation required trains typically. For example, we didn't have to "validate" our tickets when we traveled the Eurostar from Venice to Florence last summer.

Look at it this way, if you take public transit at least in Portland, you validate your ticket to ride on the MAX (Light Rail) by sticking it in a machine next to the track which time-stamps when it will expire. When you have an open ticket, you need to do this because otherwise you would never have to use it as it would always be valid.

Posted by
3108 posts

It's so easy to forget to validate your ticket--especially if you're in a rush to catch the train! It happened to us on a recent trip in Italy (we knew better and just forgot) and the conductor was kind enough to warn us not to let it happen again--we did not get a fine and he validated our tickets.

Posted by
423 posts

It's unfortunate that your son wasn't prepared and warned about this. I had friends that knew they had to validate their ticket in Paris, but were in a hurry, and got fined 10 Euro each. I'm surprised at the fine difference between France and Italy.

Posted by
3 posts

Does validating a ticket also apply to eurorail global pass?

Posted by
31471 posts

Karen, absolutely! Rail Passes have to be validated by presenting the Pass and your Passport at the first ticket window you encounter in Europe. They'll stamp it and then it's "valid". Have a look at Rick's "Rail Skills" section of the website.

Cheers!

Posted by
1170 posts

Frank, I don't care how many times it has been explained about validating tickets, once one is in the country for the "first" time there are things that you either forget or don't understand. There was no one around validating tickets. The Italians and tourists alike were running helter skelter to catch that express train from the airport and we did the same. We had a few minutes before it was leaving. We thought that there would be someone coming around to check tickets, or something on board the train to do so.

Posted by
3580 posts

Passes also need to be validated before use. At any train station window, have the rail employee validate your pass with a stamp. After that, you don't need to validate the pass again. You write in the date of use on the day you use it except for Global Passes. However, I always stamp to validate any reservations I use. The reservation is issued on a card, about the size of an airline boarding pass. All this is explained in the info that comes with your railpass.

Posted by
2196 posts

Just an FYI - If you fail to validate your ticket and are on the train... you can write the time and date on your ticket and sign it BEFORE your ticket is checked or validated by an inspector or conductor. This is also what you do when a validation machine does not work on a bus, tram, or train platform. I've only had to do this once, but friends who live here say they have avoided fines in this manner.

After they ask, it's TOO late...

Ciao,
Ron

Posted by
1170 posts

Ron, on the week long passes we bought (16 euros I believe), we validated it each time we got on. Was that necessary, or only the first day? I had no idea, so to be safe I would do it each time I got on the bus.

Posted by
2196 posts

ELI - you only validate a daily, 3-day, or weekly pass ONE TIME - the first time you use it. If you have a mensile (monthly) or annual pass you do not validate those type of tickets. On the train, If you purchase a point-to-point Eurostar Ticket or IC/plus ticket which has ASSIGNED SEATING you DO NOT need to validate those forms of ticket... all others, to be safe - VALIDATE... even if unnecessary, a one-time validation will not negate your ticket - Note, different rules apply to Eurorail passes.

You really DO NOT want to "re-validate" a daily, 3-day, or weekly pass because then it may be interpreted that you are attempting to "add a few days" to your pass...

Ciao,
Ron

Posted by
831 posts

Ron,
I don't think you can valadate on the train anymore unless the machine was broken.
From the trenitalia website:

From 1 October 2004 you can only board trains in Italy with a valid ticket, which is stamped if so required. You can no longer buy or stamp tickets on board.

If you don't have a ticket - or have one that you ought to have stamped before getting on at the station - you will be liable to pay the full ticket price plus a 25 euro fine. If you produce a ticket that is not valid for the train or service you're using (i.e. one issued for a different train category at a different price, etc.) you will be asked to pay the difference with respect to the full ticket price, plus an 8 euro surcharge.

Posted by
2196 posts

Henry - don't know about the website response... just know that in practice, I've done it - and many friends have done it - and avoided a fine. But we were also on the buses in most cases so you may be correct... The purpose of timing, dating, and signing is to signify you CANNOT use this ticket again.

It really comes down to whether or not the inspector/conductor WANTS to enforce the law! Be polite, chagrined, embarrassed, etc. and you might have a better shot. I've seen many Italians get INDIGNANT and that's definitely a losing proposition as these inspectors/conductors have seen and heard it all! Getting in their face DOES NOT intimidate them, only strengthens their resolve!

Again, on a train, many conductors may treat your signed, dated, and timed (but unvalidated) ticket just as they do a Euro Pass... but agreed, this is just for emergency - VALIDATE, before you get on the train, and you'll always be safe!

Ciao,
Ron