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Public Transportation Rome to Naples Train Choices

ROME/NAPLES Train Choices

I. THERE ARE NOW TWO RAIL COMPANIES BETWEEN ROME AND NAPLES

The most significant change which has occurred in the past few years is that now there are two competing rail companies between Rome and Naples: Italian-state controlled TRENITALIA and privately-owned ITALO TRENO. Many people have asked whether there are important differences between these companies, and the answer is no. There are minor, cosmetic differences, due largely to the fact that ITALO is much more entrepreneurial and innovative. The one significant difference is that ITALO seems to be offering much lower fares, even when the ticket is purchased very near to the departure date, when fares tend to be at their highest, full fare. Consequently, I always strongly recommend that everyone check both websites to find the best schedule and fare.

www.trenitalia.com
www.italotreno.it

Use these official websites, and not the websites of private ticket re-sellers, where you will likely pay a premium.

II. TRAIN FARE STRUCTURE

It is important to remember that ticket prices for the RESERVED trains vary in accordance with 1) date when purchased (the earlier one does so, the lower will be the fare, at least most of the time; 2) in the case of Trenitalia only, the CATEGORY of train (ITALO has only one train category, the ultra high-speed trains similar to Trenitalia Frecciarossa); and 3) CATEGORY OF TICKET (either full fare or one of several promotional fares). Please READ the rules and restrictions of the ticket category you plan to purchase, because most of the promotional tickets are non-refundable, and some are also non-changeable (e.g. Trenitalia “SUPER ECONOMY” fare ticket). There are some restrictions even for the full fare tickets, in terms of cancellation/modification deadlines and cancellation fees. The full fare tickets (called “BASE” rate for Trenitalia and “FLEX” rate for ITALO) have one significant advantage: if you MISS your reserved train for any reason APART from a failed connection between trains OPERATED BY THE SAME COMPANY (e.g. Trenitalia to Trenitalia), where the official connection time is at least 15 minutes, you have a GRACE PERIOD of ONE HOUR (with Trenitalia) and TWO HOURS (with ITALO) to re-book, free of charge, to the next departing train for your destination. You can do this at the mobile help desks located at the head of the tracks from where the high-speed trains usually depart, without needing to stand in the very long lines for the manned ticket sales windows in the atrium of the station. HOWEVER, beyond these grace periods, you FORFEIT the ticket. In the case of promotional fares, you usually FORFEIT the ticket if you MISS your reserved train by even one second (unless the missed connection exception applies).

III. TRENITALIA TRAIN CATEGORIES


Trenitalia uses five categories of trains between Rome and Naples. ALL TRAINS HAVE HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING:

1. Frecciarossa high-speed train: most modern and impressive train, travels non-stop in 70 minutes along the high-speed rail line. Usually has on-board catering of varying type. Comparable to ITALO’s sole category of high-speed train. A very comfortable train.

2. Frecciargento high-speed train: nearly as spiffy as the Frecciarossa, it also takes 70 minutes non-stop along the high-speed rail line. Usually has on-board catering of varying type. Also a very comfortable train. Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains usually cost the same, and are the most expensive of the five train categories operated by Trenitalia.

3. Frecciabianca fast train: a very nice long-distance domestic train, taking 105 minutes non-stop along the traditional rail line (passing through Formia along the coastline). Usually has a snack bar service including freshly made espresso coffee. HAS THE LOWEST SUPER ECONOMY FARE OF 9.90 EUROS if purchased well in advance. Not really much less comfortable than the Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains, though not as “spiffy”. Frecciabianca is less expensive than Frecciarossa/Frecciargento, but more expensive than Intercity.

4. Intercity fast train: the oldest type of fast train operated by Trenitalia, many are nevertheless being refurbished to eliminate their 6-seat compartments separated by sliding glass doors in favor of open-railcar seating as on the Freccia trains. There is no catering service on these trains. Travel time between Rome and Naples is 2 hours along the traditional rail line, with 3 short en-route stops. HAS THE LOWEST SUPER ECONOMY FARE OF 9.90 EUROS if purchased well in advance. Some of the unrefurbished trains may be a little run-down, but the refurbished ones are very similar to the Frecciabianca. Intercity is the least expensive of the Trenitalia reserved trains.

NOTE: the foregoing trains all have reserved seats.

5. Regionale Veloce UNRESERVED commuter train (never sells out, originates in Rome and Naples and makes many en-route stops). Travel time is 2.5 to 3 hours. Some railcars may be very run-down (although they are being taken out of service). HAS THE LOWEST FARE if purchasing ticket for same-day travel. It costs less than half of the Intercity train, and nearly one-fourth of the Frecciarossa/Frecciargento trains (at full fare). Note that THERE IS ONLY ONE FARE CATEGORY, called “Ordinaria” fare, which is non-discountable apart from the 50% reduction for children under age 12 years, 1 day. NOTE that the age cutoff for the RESERVED trains is age 15 years, 1 day. Note also that ITALO has slightly different rules for its children’s fares.

6. If you are travelling to Naples direct from Rome Fiumicino Aiport (FCO), there is a new airport bus service every two hours, called the ”Fiumicino Express”, which takes you to a large parking area adjacent to Napoli Centrale station. You do not need to reserve this bus, which takes under three hours and is the cheapest transportation from FCO to Naples. Buses depart from the airport bus depot at the extreme end of Terminal 3 arrivals (turning right as you exit out the terminal building after retrieving your checked luggage). You can purchase the ticket from the driver for a small supplement, and I discourage buying online. Although not quite as fast as taking the Frecciarossa or ITALO train, you do avoid the additional cost and time of getting to Roma Termini station from the airport. It’s faster than taking any of the other (less expensive and slower) trains from Termini to Naples.

IV. TICKET FARE CATEGORIES


I am going to be brief here, because new promotional fares change frequently, and new promotional categories pop up from time to time (e.g. the Trenitalia 3X2 promotional fare, which is an offshoot of the longstanding 2X1 Saturday promotional fare). Suffice to say that it behooves you to look carefully at all of these discounted fares, and to read and understand their respective rules and regulations, before purchasing. Some promotional fares apply only to the Trenitalia Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains, other to all the RESERVED trains. Also, do not assume that a particular promotional fare is necessarily the lowest for your travel date, destination and train category. For example, the Trenitalia SUPER ECONOMY fare CAN at times be lower than the “BIMBI GRATIS” fare for the reserved trains, or even the 2X1 or the 3X2 promotional fares. Usually, the reservations systems will show you all the available discounted fares (on Trenitalia, make sure you check the box for “all trains” otherwise you may get a listing of only the Frecce trains, which are usually more expensive). Remember that there are no promotional fares for the Trenitalia UNRESERVED trains (apart from the child’s discount).

V. WHEN TO BUY IN ADVANCE, AND HOW FAR IN ADVANCE

This is an often misunderstood subject. Tickets for the RESERVED trains are put on sale NO MORE THAN FOUR MONTHS in advance of the travel date, although there are times during the year when this will be less, because of an upcoming schedule change (e.g. mid-June and mid-December). Tickets for the Trenitalia UNRESERVED trains are often made available for purchase far closer to the actual travel date, because they are the last train category to get uploaded to the system. In any case, I discourage people from buying tickets for the Trenitalia UNRESERVED trains in advance, because of the restrictions for making last-moment changes or seeking refunds in case of a cancelled trip. The vast majority of tourists will have no problem buying these tickets shortly before train departure, in traditional PAPER format from an electronic ticket machine in the station of departure. I make an exception when people are going to be CONNECTING from one train to an UNRESERVED Trenitalia train, and the scheduled connection time is insufficient for buying the ticket for the second train at the station, without risking a missed connection. In these circumstances, it makes sense to buy an electronic ticket for the UNRESERVED train in advance. There are a few more rare circumstances when if may be sensible to buy a ticket in advance for an UNRESERVED train. Bear in mind that when purchasing the ticket you MUST specify the travel DATE, and can use the electronic ticket to board an unreserved train for your destination departing only on THAT specified travel date, and within FOUR HOURS AFTER the train departure time noted on the electronic receipt. In the case of a PAPER ticket for an UNRESERVED train, you can use the ticket for ANY unreserved train to your destination departing before midnight of the designated travel date shown on the paper ticket. You must VALIDATE a PAPER ticket for an UNRESERVED train prior to boarding, in the little green stamping machines at the head of the rail track. NO OTHER TYPES OF TICKETS NEED TO BE VALIDATED (including ANY type of ELECTRONIC ticket, or ANY type of ticket for the RESERVED trains).

I do recommend buying tickets in advance for the RESERVED trains if your aim is to get the lowest fare possible, AND you are willing to live with the restrictions of your ticket category AND the possibility of FORFEITING the ticket if you MISS your reserved train for reasons such as a delay in flight arrival at the airport, or getting stuck in traffic while driving to the train station in a taxi. In the case of advance ticket purchases for use immediately after arrival by plane (rather than for next-day travel, for example), I have the following rule-of-thumb: buy in advance only if you are getting a substantial savings of (e.g. 40-50%), you have a conservative time connection, AND your savings EXCEEDS the amount forfeited if you were to MISS your reserved train. For example, I consider it unwise to buy a ticket in advance in a risky situation (e.g. for use immediately after arrival by plane) where one is risking a forfeiture of 30 Euros per ticket in order to save 10 Euros off the full-fare ticket if bought after arrival.

VI. FIRST CLASS OR SECOND CLASS

This is very easy: for a trip of under two hours or indeed more, second class is perfectly fine for most people. Bear in mind that the travel time is merely 70 minutes on ITALO and on the Trenitalia Frecciarossa and Frecciargento trains. A few exceptions: (i) you are traveling solo and don’t want anybody seated next to you. First (or business) class on the RESERVED Frecce or REFURBISHED Intercity trains will allow you to choose a seat on the side of the railcar which has exclusively single seats; (ii) you are a really BIG person (and I mean really big), and need more seat/shoulder room. First (or business) class seats on the RESERVED trains are wider and sometimes (not always) also have more leg room. Bear in mind that many economy class seats on planes today are narrower than second class seats on Italian trains. First class seats are wider than business class seats on planes.

NOTE: The Trenitalia Frecciarossa train has four categories of seats, which unfortunately do not use the terms first and second class. They are: Executive class (extremely expensive, used by business people with very generous travel allowances), Business Class (this is first class), Premium Class (nothing more than second class with leather seats, glass partitions between rows and a complimentary snack/beverage), and Standard Class (this is second class). At times, the cost differences between and among the lowest three classes may not be considerable, in view of the many levels of promotional fares offered at the time of ticket purchase. All other Trenitalia reserved trains have first and second class, while many unreserved trains have only second class. ITALO trains also have four categories of seats, with similar distinctions. The categories are called “Smart” “Comfort” “Prima” and “Club Executive.”

VII. MORE TRAVEL NOTES


1. For exploring the City of Naples, I recommend purchasing the URBANO NAPOLI BIGLIETTO GIORNALIERO 1-day unlimited ride ticket, valid on city buses, trams, metro system (urban Naples only) and funicular railways. It pays for itself after the third ride. It is valid until midnight of the day of first use. You can also purchase single-ride tickets, which make sense for three or fewer rides per day.

www.unicocampania.it

2. If you’re going to Pompei, take the Circumvesuviana commuter rail from the underground platforms at Napoli Centrale (called “Napoli Garibaldi” station). Take the train going to Sorrento, which stops at “Pompei Scavi Villa dei Misteri”, across the street from the site main entrance. Trains run every 30 minutes from early morning to evening, take about 35 minutes, and make many stops. All seats are unreserved. Some railcars are not air conditioned. LOOK OUT FOR PICKPOCKETS. This train does not have dedicated luggage racks, so you’ll need to keep your luggage very close to you, on the floor next to or between your legs. A much more comfortable alternative is the CAMPANIA EXPRESS tourist train, which runs from mid-April through mid-October, a few times per day. Fares are much higher, but there is a reduction for a round-trip purchase (which can be used on different days), and you are allowed to make en-route stopovers (such as at Pompei), as long as you proceed to your final destination same day. This train has air conditioning and reserved seats, although you usually don’t need to reserve in advance.

http://www.eavsrl.it/web/content/campania-express-2017-it

http://www.eavsrl.it/web/sites/default/files/eavferro/Napoli - Sorrento_1.pdf

http://www.eavsrl.it/web/sites/default/files/eavferro/Sorrento - Napoli_0.pdf

3. If you’re going straight to Sorrento, take the Circumvesuviana or the CAMPANIA EXPRESS train. The slowest trains take about 65 minutes, but there are a few faster ones. There are also hydrofoils from the Molo Beverello Port, which are much more scenic than taking the train, but much less convenient as well as much more expensive. From Napoli Centrale station, you must take a taxi, bus or tram to the port, then another bus from the dock in Sorrento up to the main square of town. Unless you’re really keen to do this trip by boat, it may not be worth the trouble, if you’ve arrived at Napoli Centrale by train. Note that there is also a direct bus service from Roma Tiburtina bus depot (300 yards from the TIburtina metro/train station) to Sorrento, operated year-round by Marozzi bus lines, plus seasonal service on to Positano, Praiano and Amalfi.

www.marozzivt.it

www.alilauro.it

4. If you’re headed to Caserta, take a Trenitalia unreserved regionale train, which takes about 40 minutes. Note that there are direct Trenitalia fast trains from Roma Termini to Caserta, which bypass Naples entirely. These trains proceed on to Bari, Brindisi and Foggia.

5. If you’re going to Salerno, take a Trenitalia unreserved regionale train, which takes about 40 minutes. Note that there are direct fast trains from Roma Termini to Salerno, all of which stop at Napoli Centrale, but then proceed on to Salerno. The fast trains are run by Trenitalia and ITALO.

6. If you’re going to Paestum, take a Trenitalia unreserved regionale train, which takes about 80 minutes. Buy a return ticket, because the station as Paesum is unmanned, and the electronic ticket machine might be out of service. The Archeological area is 700 meters from the station, along a very pretty straight and narrow country lane. The Archeological Museum is another 300 meters further off, making a right turn at the restaurant once you reach the main pedestrian street in front of the temples.

7. If you’re going to Capri, Ischia or Procida, go to Molo Beverello for a hydrofoil, or to the nearby Calata Porta di Massa for a car ferry.

8. If you’re headed to the Amalfi Coast, go by train to either Salerno (Trenitalia unreserved regionale train) or Sorrento (Circumvesuviana or CAMPANIA EXPRESS), then proceed by SITA bus to Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, Atrani, Minori, Maiori, Cetara, Vietri sul Mare, or wherever you’re going. Travel via Sorrento to reach Positano or Praiano; via Salerno for the other towns. IF YOU ARE COMING DIRECTLY FROM ROME, TAKE A FAST TRAIN TO SALERNO, THEN THE FERRY BOAT TO AMALFI, POSITANO, CETARA, MAIORI OR MINORI (April 1 through October 31) from the Concordia dock 800 meters from the Salerno train station, or the hourly SITA bus departing from the square outside the station. The SITA bus has the advantage of stopping in towns not reached by the ferry boat. Buy your boat ticket at the kiosk by the dock, or your bus ticket from the newsstand inside the train station.

www.travelmar.it Note that a late afternoon boat to Amalfi/Positano is added mid-June through September (later than the departure at 15:30, usually at 17:00). Note also that there are ferry boats from Salerno to Cetara, Maiori and Minori which proceed to Amalfi.

www.sitasudtrasporti.it Note that there are usually schedule changes in early April, mid-June, and early November. In addition to point-to-point tickets, SITA has a 24-hr. unlimited ride ticket for 8 Euros (called “COSTIERASITA”), valid for the buses between Sorrento and Salerno along the Amalfi Coast (including Amalfi/Ravello). You must write your name and date of birth in the spaces provided on the face of the daily ticket, and validate it on the first usage. Point-to-point tickets must also be validated upon boarding. There is no longer a 3-day bus ticket sold. Nor is there any longer the 3-day UNICO CAMPANIA tourist ticket for regional bus/trains in the Campania Region.

HINT: Between Sorrento and Positano/Amalfi, there is also a privately operated red sightseeing bus running hourly from mid-April through mid-On october which is more expensive but much more comfortable than the often-overcrowded SITA bus. There is limited space, however, for luggage on this red bus. Seats on both the SITA bus and on the sightseeing bus are all unreserved.

http://www.sorrento.city-sightseeing.it/eng/percorsi.html

There are also infrequent hydrofoils between Sorrento and Positano/Amalfi from April through October. The maritime service is the most expensive but often the most scenic transportation. By contrast, the SITA bus is extremely inexpensive, and the red sightseeing bus is half the cost of the hydrofoil. Bear in mind that hydrofoil service between Sorrento and Positano/Amalfi is spotty and often not a great substitute for the buses.

www.alilauro.it

9. If you’re planning to visit museums or archeological sites in the Campania Region, consider purchasing one of the CAMPANIA ARTECARDs. The 3-day “tutta la regione” ARTECARD also includes free transportation (for 3 consecutive days) on many public commuter buses, unreserved commuter trains, trams and funicular railways, plus the Naples metro system, the Naples airport bus, and Trenitalia unreserved regionale trains in the Campania Region. Maritime services and privately-operated bus lines are excluded.

www.artecard.it

10. I have more to say, but this posting is already too long!
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