Ridership on Italian trains is on the rise with travelers reporting ease, comfort and the ability to book discounted fares well in advance as the reasons they opt for trains over cars and air travel, according to Mike Fuller, president and CEO of ItaliaRail.
A recent poll by ItaliaRail revealed that customers enjoy the opportunity to view Italy's scenery as the most compelling aspect of train travel through Italy, with not having to drive being a close second. ItaliaRail says rail travel allows travelers to avoid the hassles of long airport security lines when flying, or parking and navigating when driving, train travel is simply easier.
The poll comes soon after the end of the historic Paris-Madrid night train, which had been inaugurated in 1969.
ItaliaRail's top five reasons why rail travel is worth while - in Italy and elsewhere -include:
1. Train travel is more relaxing – While driving offers passengers a chance to chill out, rarely is it relaxing for the driver. Consider directions, keeping an eye on gas and mileage, expensive tolls on Italian highways, finding parking in cities like Rome and Venice - with Italian signs and parking restrictions thrown in - it’s stressful.
The train offers a chance for everyone to read, listen to music, or just glance out the window at the breathtaking Italian vistas. Upon arrival, most major Italian train stations are conveniently located in the center of town close to attractions and hotels, no parking involved. In addition, train seating and private cabins are typically more spacious and comfortable than the smaller seating offered in automobiles and airplanes. Modern trains offer seats with an ample amount of leg room and they recline further back than airplane seats, ItaliaRail says.
2. Train travel can be cheaper – With gas prices continuing to rise and the Euro still dominating the dollar, the cost of renting, fueling and parking a car is high. The cost to rent a mid-size car, during peak season, for two weeks from Rome, is upwards of $1,000. One car trip from Rome to Venice costs around $250, which includes gas, tolls and parking in Venice. A second-class Super Economy fare on the high-speed Frecciargento train from Rome to Venice, during the winter, can be as low as $42. Plus, cars and planes are at the mercy of fluctuating fuel prices. Trains are not. High-speed trains offer a range of stable fares throughout the year, ItaliaRail says.
3. Train travel is greener – High-speed trains are more energy efficient. On average and per passenger, they produce 80 percent less C02 than a plane traveling the same distance. A recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology suggests large cars can be as harmful to the climate as planes.Travelers who are concerned about the carbon footprint they are leaving, opt for train travel, Italia Rail says.
4. Train travel saves time – The trip from Rome to Venice is 330 miles and takes roughly 6 ½ hours by car, while the high-speed train, traveling at a speed of 180 mph, will get you there in almost half the time at 3 hours and 45 minutes. Car trips usually take even longer than you think, when you factor in stops for food, gas and time getting lost.
5. Train travel is a better travel experience – Overall, train travel affords an opportunity to get immersed in the local culture. Friendships are formed, ideas for what to see and do are exchanged, word-of-mouth restaurant recommendations are shared, and most importantly lifetime travel memories are made, ItaliaRail says.
ItaliaRail notes that In cooperation with Trenitalia, Italy's national railway, ItaliaRail provides a direct connection to Trenitalia's reservation system allowing rail travelers access to routes and prices.
For more Italy travel tips, check out Rick Steves' recent journey to Milan.