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Tricky Trenitalia ticket purchase departing from Switzerland

I have read some "horror stories" about people buying tickets TO Italy FROM other countries, and then losing all money because they would have to retrieve the ticket at a Trenitalia ticket machine (which obviously does not exist outside Italy).

I want to buy a Luzern - Milan ticket. SBB shows many train combinations. Trenitalia shows just one of those trains, without a transfer, but sells it much, much cheaper than SBB. It is the same train (Eurocity 153) for sure. I simulated a purchase all the way before entering payment details; no such mention of need to retrieve a ticket at a ticket machine was shown.

Am I doing something wrong? Are delivery options shown only AFTER payment? Is it really a "gotcha" feature?

Posted by
2487 posts

All the tickets I've arranged through Trenitalia were emailed pdf's for printing at home.

Posted by
11613 posts

You should be emailed the ticket; print it at home, regular 8.5x11 will do.

If that doesn't work, if you can find a RailEurope boutique in Luzern, they can print it for you (even though you didn't buy the ticket from them), for a fee.

Posted by
16936 posts

We have had no problem getting "print at home" tickets from Trenitalia.

If you wish to see more travel options than that one train, try from Arth-Goldau instead of Luzern. This is the direct train Eurocity between Zurich and Milan; it stops in Arth-Goldau which is a short (and inexpensive) hop from Luzern. (This the route with one connection that you are seeing on SBB).

Looking at this route on mid-July on Trenitalia, I see Smart and Mini as low as €9. Add 13.20 CHF for the 30-minute ride from Luzern, and you are still ahead of the price of the Trenitalia ticket on that one direct train.

Posted by
3812 posts

Swiss conductors can't access the complete data-base of trenitalia's e-ticket, so they sometimes need to see an old style paper ticket. The situation has improved, in the past they wanted people to use paper tickets on all trains.

This problem will be solved only when the Swiss will go fully paperless, too. Untill then you must remember that an international train is managed by two different companies on the 2 sides of the border. So the Italian customers use Trenitalia.com and the Swiss ones SBB.ch.

Trenitalia.com now asks its foreign customers to check a box to declare they understand that the international ticket they are purchasing must be exchanged with a paper one in Italy. You can't make that mistake anymore. If you don't see that warning it means that on that train the problem has been solved.

To avoid worries, you just have to wait. If you wait after the timetable change of June 11 you'll see the same discounted fares available on Trenitalia and SBB; but note that trenitalia.com shows only those trains that depart from or arrive in Italy.

Posted by
8889 posts

Fabbiana, To emphasise darioalb's last comment.

Problem 1: Trenitalia only shows trains within, to or from Italy. It does not show Swiss internal trains. There are many trains from Luzern to Milan, mostly changing at Arth-Goldau, and one direct train, this is the one you see on Trenitalia because Trenitalia does not know about all the trains from Luzern to Arth-Goldau (BTW the other trains to Milan are starting from Zürich, you connect at Arth-Goldau). SBB does know all Swiss trains (obviously), so it shows all the options.

Problem 2: SBB does not have all the cheap Italian fares Trenitalia offers, Trenitalia does not let foreign companies have these fares.

Solution: Look up times on SBB, that shows all trains.
When you have decided which train to get, if Trenitalia is cheaper, buy from Luzern to the border (Chiasso) on SBB; and from Chiasso to Milan on Trenitalia and get a Trenitalia PDF ticket. It does not matter if you have two tickets, you can stay seated.