Monday, June 18, 2007

Panic Run at Milan Central Station

This morning, I repeated the panic run that I had with Peiling two years ago. The difference was two years ago, the train was to depart in minutes, while we still didn't know how to buy the train ticket! This morning, the train was to depart in minutes, and I had the ticket on hand, but I didn't know how to find the platform! This time round, I must record down the 'proper' procedure to do all these crazy stuff.

Buying Train Tickets:

There are a few ways to buy train tickets, you can buy online, using the self-service machines located on the ground floor of Milan Central Station, or at the ticket office. If you use the self-service machine, you can choose different languages. Pick your destination, departure time, your seat and then pay by either cash or credit card. A train ticket will be issued to you immediately if instructed by you.

I also found that the price is the same whether you choose your own seat, or you let the system do it for you. Yet there is still a small difference. If you choose your own seat(s), most probably you will end up at the back of the train, say coach 12 or 2/3. The coach usually have very few people on a normal day (Not sure about peak seasons though). If you let the system do it for you, then you most probably will mix around with the locals.

Practical Information to board a train:

1. To find out which platform you are to board the train, check the departure information at the station displays. It is very straight forward if your destination is the same as the train's final destination. If it is not, then you have to figure it out by looking at the departure time, then go to the train staff who will ususally station at the entrance of the 1st class coach to find out. That was what I did. I was going to Firenze (Florence), but the train's final destination was Roma Termini (Rome).

2. Some useful Italian words:

Carrozza means Coach
Posti means Seat

3. If you are taking EuroStar, then it does not matter whether you validate your ticket at the yellow box before you board the train, but for TrienItalia trains, you have to validate it; otherwise, you may be imposed a big fine (said to be around 70 euros)

Updates: The train ticket for regional trains do not specify the train number, neither is there seating number, and it is valid for two months. That explains why if you don't validate your ticket when you board the train, you will get a heavy fine once caught.

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