Just last week I posted a tutorial about how to interpret your train ticket. The tutorial was specific to Italy based on the examples of my tickets and Italian, but can be modified and used throughout Europe! Same applies to navigating through a train station. All my examples are from my most recent trip to Italy, but apply to train stations all over the continent, and world.
To learn how to interpret your train ticket: Click here!
After you understand how to interpret your train ticket, you’ll need to find your train! Train stations can be busy and overwhelming, but as long as you show up early (I recommend about thirty minutes) you should be good to go! Remember that it’s ok to ask others around you for questions, and if you are unsure or confused, there is always an information counter. When traveling we have to let go of our pride and open our hearts up to learn. It’s better to feel like you’re asking a stupid question but make it to your destination versus missing your train because you were too scared/confused/proud to ask for help.
I know, I apologize, the clarity in the picture is awful. Zooming in on my cell phone didn’t do me justice. However, this is the departure board. These are located all over the place in train stations. To find them, they are typically placed on the wall above train platforms and across from train platforms. You will need to look up. The information presented on these boards (from left to right) is the train company and train number (Treno), destination (Destinazione), departure time (Partenza), information on station stops (Informazioni), and platform number.
Now even though you arrive 30 minutes early, you often do not have a train platform until 10 minutes until departure. So, when looking at those big screens, it’s important to look at the specific train number along with the destination and departure time. I have seen my same train number for a different destination and time, but that was because they re-use these numbers! Just be mindful and pay attention! Within two minutes of asking for help, the screen changed and showed my train number with the correct destination and time. The eye roll was worth the reassurance.
Once you find your platform number for your correct destination and departure time, you will want to make your way to the platform. The platforms are numbered and the walkways have access to only two trains. One on the left side and one on the right side. Pictured here, you can find platforms 12 (on the left) and 13 (on the right). You will wait here for your train to arrive. It is also important to find your assigned carriage, (listed above as carriage 8) if you have a scheduled ticket with assigned seating.
If you do not have a scheduled ticket, be sure to validate your ticket in the machine below, and sit in an open seat. The validation machine is located around the self service kiosks and train platforms. To validate your ticket, stick your ticket into the machine as far as it will go, and to the left as far as it will go. You will hear the machine stamp your ticket, and will see the stamp upon removal of your ticket from the machine.
Each platform provides the specific information for the expected train. In the image below, this is platform 5. The destination (Destinazione) is Viareggio, departing (Partenza) at 13:10 (or 1:10 pm). The train information (Treno) lists the train number as 21410 with the company Trenitalia. Additional information (Informazioni) shows the different station stops and their arrival time. For example, on the train to Viareggio, arrival at Pescia will happen at 14:11. Sometimes your personal destination is not the final destination of the train. That’s why it is important to know your specific destination and arrival time, and pay attention while riding the train.
Now once you have found your correct train platform, double check. Look at all the important information on your ticket and check that it matches all the information on the platform screen. Does your departure date and time match? Does your train number and company match? Does your destination or informational station stops match? If they do-great-wait for your train! If they don’t, simply walk back to the main departures board and look up the correct platform.
When your train arrives, if you have a scheduled ticket, you will have assigned seats. The assigned seats are listed next to the train number on your ticket and will show both the carriage (Carrozza) and seat (Posti). The carriage numbers are listed on the platform station and on the physical train. When boarding the train, be mindful that your carriage matches the carriage listed on your ticket and find your appropriate seat.
If you have a general ticket that is missing information on departure date and departure time, please validate and sit where there is an open seat. If at another stop, you are sitting in someone’s assigned seat, you will be required to move.
So, to wrap up navigating a train station, you need to make sure you:
- Have your ticket
- Check the departure board for train number, departure time, destination, and platform number
- Find the appropriate platform number
- Double check that your ticket information matches the platform information
- Board at the correct carriage and sit in your assigned seat if traveling with a scheduled ticket
5. Board and sit in an empty seat AFTER validating your general ticket
But most importantly, enjoy the journey!!!
How was this tutorial? Did you find it helpful? Are you feeling confident and excited to see the world? What information was not helpful or misleading? Please let me know, in the comments below, or feel free to contact me with the form on the main page!