Getting around: local and regional train services

Published on:  | Last updated: 6 March 2017

In Italy the regional govern­ments have a major role in public transport, including train services. In some regions there are local train companies owned by the region, while in others the national rail company may manage the services, but under an agreement with the regione. And in a number of places you'll find a combin­ation of the two.

This started out as a brief roundup of the local train companies I knew about. But it turned out that there are a lot more than I thought. So I'd suggest using the map to jump to the region you're inter­ested in.

Piemonte

The metro­pol­itana in Torino and the rail services in the Piemonte region are run by SFM (Servizio Ferrovia Metropolitana). This company is a joint operation between the national trenitalia and GTT (Gruppo Torinese Trasporti). Trenitalia are responsible for 6 lines while GTT are responsible for two (including the line that serves Torino airport).  Show map of the SFM rail network in overlay (design by 'Arbalete' source: Wikimedia Commons)

Information about taking your bike on the SFM-operated trains is set out (in Italian) on the FAQs page sfmtorino.it: FAQs). The main points are:

You can take a bike on all of the lines except the FM2 line that runs from Pinerolo in south-west to Chivasso in the north-east via Torino.

You'll need to buy a bike ticket. On the SFM lines (1 and A) you simply buy a second ticket for your bike. On the trenitalia trains the cheapest option is usually to buy a bike day-ticket for 3.5€.

The SFM website gives the sensible advice to avoid rush hours if possible.

Lombardia

Trenord is the company that operates 42 regional lines in Lombardia, as well as 10 suburban lines, around Milano and the Malpensa Express. Download network maps from this page: trenord.it network maps.

According to the trenord website

You may transport up to a maximum of 5 cycles per carriage on trains without cycle compart­ments, provided that this does not adversely affect the normal rail service. During peak periods in particular, restric­tions may be placed on the carriage of cycles, including those bearing the appro­priate symbol, at the discretion of staff on board.

You need to buy a ticket for your bike which costs 3€ and is valid for 24 hours from the time you stamp it.

Trentino Trasporti train

Trentino Trasporti train. Photo by Ivan Furlanis. Source: wikimedia Commons

The Trentino

In the Trentino local train services are operated by trentino trasporti they operate services between Trento, Cles, Malè and Marilleva (these serve the Val di Sole cycleway). You can get timetable inform­ation from the trains page of the website ttesercizio.it: trains). So far as I can see all the trains carry bikes, and indeed, during the summer, they are equipped to carry 18 bikes. There's even one train a day (leaving Trento at 8:30 and returning from Marilleva at 17:30) that can carry up to 60 bikes.

The provincia is also responsible for services on the lines between Trento and Borgo Valsugana and between Trento and Bozen (Bolzano). The Trento&emdash;Borgo Valsugana trains serve the Valsugana cycleway and in summer the trains (operated by trenitalia on behalf of the provincia) can carry up to 32 bikes.

The Trento-Bozen trains operated by the provincia between Verona and Bolzano, can carry between 6 and 18 bikes (note that tandems and trailers are specifically excluded from these services).

Bike tickets cost 2€. I was told that you need a Trentino ticket even if you have a trenitalia bike ticket (although the Trentino ticket is valid on trenitalia trains within the Trentino).

You should usually be able to take your bike on extra-urban bus services (see this page: trasporti.provincia.tn.it: trasporto bici - although this depends on the type of bus, and there's a limit of two bikes. And while I'm passing on good news, you can also take your bike on the Funivia between Trento and Sardana.

The Südtirol

The Südtirol Bahn operate services in the three main valleys: the Vinschgau, EisackTal, and PusterTal. Serving respect­ively the Vinschgau Radweg (Via Claudia Augusta - Ciclabile della Val Venosta), Pusterbike (Ciclabile della Val Pusteria), and the EisackTal Radweg (ciclabile del Brennero/​Ciclabile della Valle Isarco).

You can get more inform­ation about taking your bike on Südtirol Bahn trains from their website (ferroviavalvenosta.it: bike and train). You have to scroll down past the inform­ation about bike hire - in summer cycling is very popular so even though the trains have capacity for up to 18 bikes, the region seems to be working hard to encourage people to rent rather than carry their bikes on the trains.

Capacity has been a particular problem on the line between Bozen, Meran and Mals. When I rode on this cycleway it, you could just get on the train with your bike and head for Mals. It looks like this option was too popular and now during the summer bikes are trans­ported separ­ately by road and you pick them up at the following stations: Naturn, Latsch, Schlanders, Spondinig or Mals. The regional train company's website ferroviavalvenosta.it: train and bike (also at vinscherbahn.it), says that from May until the end of October, between 8:00 - 13:00 and 15:00 - 17:30 you cannot board the Vinschgau train with a bike at Merano, Marlengo or Lagundo. The radwegvinschgau.org site says that the bike transport trucks leave from Meran at the following times: 09.16, 10.16, 11.16, 16.16, and 17.16. The price is 4€ per bike. For more inform­ation you can phone the Vinschger Bahn on 0473 201500.

Südtirolerbahn train in the PusterTal (Val Pusteria). Photo Luca Llorenzi from Wikimedia Commons

The Veneto

There's only one train line in the Veneto that isn't operated by trenitalia. The Linea Adria-Mestre links Venezia Mestre station with Adria at the mouth of the Po. Each train can carry up to 5 bikes and a bike ticket costs 2.60€

Friuli-Venezia-Giulia

In Friuli-Venezia-Giulia there's the Ferrovie Udine Cividale linking Udine and Cividale del Friuli.

Again trains can carry a maximum of five bikes. You need a bike ticket - the ticket costs the price of a 'tariffa ridotta' ticket for the journey (for Udine-Cividale the 2014 price is 2.35€).

Emilia Romagna

The regional transport company is TPER (Trasporto Passageri Emilia-Romagna) ).  show TPER network map in overlay. According to Trenitalia's timetable service you need to reserve a place for your bike by ringing 840 151 152. You can check the train times on trenitalia.com or download a timetable from the TPER website tper.it

Ferrovia Emilia Romagna train

Ferrovia Emilia Romagna train

Umbria

The Ferrovia Centrale Umbra operates a line that runs north to south through Umbria linking Sansepolcro, Perugia, Terni   show network map in overlay.

According to this page umbriamobilita.it: regole-del-viaggio you can carry bikes on their trains, but you need to book a place three (yes, three) days in advance by ringing 0755 754046.

Lazio and Rome

Trenitalia operate the Ferrovie Regionale del Lazio on behalf of the Lazio region. The network comprises the eight commuter lines that converge on Rome.   show Lazio railways network map in overlay (design by 'Arbalete' source: Wikimedia Commons). According to Trenitalia, 70 percent of the trains on the FL lines carry bikes. The bike-friendly trains are spread across all services, so it's best to check the trenitalia website for the specific service you are inter­ested in (see my article: using the trenitalia website to search for bike-friendly trains).

Metropolitana underground and other services

According to the the Roma Capitale website at Saturdays and on weekdays after 8 pm (the site doesn't mention Sundays) you can take a bike on the two lines of the Metropolitana as well and the Roma Lido (Ostiense - Ostia) service. The website includes this notice:

PLEASE NOTE: groups with more than 5 bikes must announce their presence by phone at least 24 hours earlier, in order to receive assistance: (A and B Metro Lines: 06 5700) (Roma-Lido Trains: 06 46952561).

Campania

Local trains out of Napoli are operated by the Circumvesuviana. Circumvesuviana means 'around Vesuvius' - the lines that run along the coast to Sorrento and to the north and east of the mountain.  show network map in overlay (source Wikimedia Commons).

You can't take a bike on the Circumvesuviana services, however, according to the Cicloverdi (the local cyclists' organ­isation), at quiet times the ticket inspectors often turn a blind eye.

“ Nota bene: il trasporto delle bici in Circumvesuviana di norma non è consentito, ma spesso i controllori chiudono un occhio, specie se il treno non è affollato. Si propone questa soluzione del tutto aleatoria a solo titolo inform­ativo e si declina ogni responsab­ilità in merito). ”

However, I suspect that in summer you'll be unlikely to find a quiet train on the line along the coast that goes to Sorrento via Paestum and Pompeii.

Puglia

Puglia has about 1500 kms of rail lines with almost half owned and operated by local companies. The good news is that the regione is investing heavily in new, bike-friendly trains, the bad news is that there a still a few older trains about which aren't equipped to carry bikes, so in the meantime you need to check which trains you can take your bike on.

FSE train near Nardò in Puglia

FSE train near Nardò in Puglia. Photo by Daniele Donardelli. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Ferrovie Sud Est

The Ferrovie Sud Est (it/​en) operate services out of Lecce (where the national network ends) as well as a couple of lines south from Bari which provide a useful complement to the national network.

Map of the Ferrovie del Sud Est (FSE) rail network

Map of the Ferrovie del Sud Est (FSE) rail network

(You can also download more detailed versions from the FSE website fseonline.it: timetables and prices).

The rules for trans­porting bikes are set out in Italian on the fseonline.it: Diritti e doveri dei viaggiatori (Rights and duties of travellers) page.

The FSE is in the process of modern­ising its fleet and many, if not most, trains are equipped to take bikes, but it's possible that there are still a few that aren't. According to the FSE website, for inform­ation you need to phone either:

  • +39 080 546 2417 (Bari station) between 16:30 and 19.00
  • +39 0832 668265 0832 668257 (Lecce Section) (5.30 pm to 19.30)
  • I don't know when this part of the FSE website was last updated and it's possible that this is now unnecessary.

    You also need a bike ticket - but these are free.

    Another point to bear in mind is that the FSE trains are replaced by buses on Sundays - presumably to allow for maintenance and upgrading work.

    Ferrovie Nord Barese

    The Ferrovie Nord Barese (it/​en) offer services to the north of Bari. They also operate the new train service to Bari's Karol Wojtyla airport (it/​en).

    Map of the Ferrovie Nord Barese rail services

    Map of the Ferrovie Nord Barese rail services

    Like the other train companies in Puglia the Ferrovie Nord Barese is modern­ising its fleet and the newer trains are equipped to take bikes. You can read the detailed rules here:
    ferrovienordbarese.it: transport of luggage bicycles and animals.

    Again you need a (free) ticket for your bike.

    If you want to find out which trains carry bikes you'll need to download the timetable from the timetable downloads page: ferrovienordbarese.it: timetable downloads. There's a timetable for the airport service, but for inform­ation about bike-friendly trains you'll need to download the main timetable.

    Ferrovie del Gargano

    The company operates trains between Foggia and Peschici on the Gargano peninsula and between Foggia and Lucera. all their trains are now equipped to take bikes and there's no charge for taking your bike on the train. Ferrovie del Gargano (it/​en). For more detail on the rules for carrying bikes see: ferroviedelgargano.com: bike transport on board the train.

    Basilicata

    New train on the Ferrovie Appulo Lucane

    New train on the Ferrovie Appulo Lucane. Picture from Wikimedia Commons

    Ferrovia Appulo Lucane

    The Ferrovia Appulo Lucane (FAL) operates services between Bari in Puglia, and Matera in Basilicata. The Basilicata region has also invested a lot in new trains, and there are now only a few trains that can't take bikes. You can check by downloading the pdf timetable: (ferrovieappulolucane.it: orario treni). Trains that can't take bikes have the words 'NO BICI' at the top of the column. The timetable also shows services where buses replace trains.

    Sicilia

    The Ferrovia Circumetnea operate services around Mount Etna between Catania and Riposto (Ferrovia Circumetnea: network map). I haven't been able to find any official inform­ation about whether you can take bikes on the company's services, but according to this article on it.wikipedia.org the company has renovated 6 of its trains and the renovated trains include a bike compartment.

    Sardegna

    Most of the rail services in Sardegna are run by trenitalia (and are bike-friendly). There are also some narrow-gauge services that are run by the ARST (Azienda Regionale Sarda Trasporti). These include the rail line between Alghero and Sassari and connect with the trenitalia services to Porto Torres, Olbia and Cagliari.

    Since June 2016 there's been a fleet of brand-new trains operating on the line. I haven't travelled on this type of train, but the videos and photo­graphs clearly show the bike picto­grams on one set of doors in each unit.

    Timetables in pdf format are here: arstspa.info: TPL_SS.pdf   (download page: arst.sardegna.it).

    There's no inform­ation on the timetables on whether there are any restric­tions on rush hour trains, but it's probably better to avoid busy times.

    The single fare from Alghero to Sassari is 3.10€ (2016) and the same again for your bike-ticket. The region is devel­oping a system of integ­rated ticketing for public transport, at the time of writing (2016) it was trialling integ­rated tickets for journeys using ARST and trenitalia services between Alghero and Porto Torres.

    ADeS.01 presso Molafà

    New train on the Alghero-Sassari line. Photo: Mario Dessì (via flickr).

    The Italian-speaking cantons of Switzerland

    Graubünden: the Rhätische Bahn (RHB) - Ferrovia Retica

    Also in Lombardia (although only just) is the Swiss railway company Rhätische Bahn (RHB) (Ferrovia Retica in Italian) who operate trains between Sankt Moritz and Tirano in Italy. They are best known for the panoramic Bernina Express. You can't take trains on the Bernina Express but you can take bikes on other trains operated by the company on that line. The altern­ative trains are just as scenic (correction: even more scenic especially if the weather is good and you can go on the open wagon at the end.

    Red RHB train near Pontresina in the Swiss Alps

    RHB train near Pontresina. Photo: David Gubler. Source: bahnbilder.ch.

    A bike ticket is relat­ively expensive and there's also the Graubünden Pass-Bike. The pass is valid on the networks of the Rhaetian Railway, Swiss Federal Railways, Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (Disentis/​Mustér - Oberalp Pass), PostBus, Engadin Bus, Silvestri Bus Livigno, Chur town buses, local buses in Scuol and St Moritz as well as on the Rhäzüns – Feldis cable car and the Martina, cunfin-Mals/Malles line.

    Ticino: TILO (Treno Regionale Ticino Lombardia)

    The TILO is a joint venture between trenitalia and the canton of Ticino. It operates services between Milano and cities in the Ticino canton of Switzerland (Locarno, Lugano, Airolo). Its S30 line links to Milano's Malpensa airport. Some S20 trains run to Domodossola.   network map for the TILO train company.

    Trains on the main S10, S20 and S30 lines are equipped to carry bikes. However you can't travel with a bike during rush hours.

    The S5 service between Varese and Treviglio is shown on the TILO network map but is operated by Trenord. You can take your bike on these - but check with the trenitalia website to confirm.

    The TILO also operates certain long-distance services. It's best to check with the timetable, but the rule is that you can take bikes on InterRegio trains and ICN but not on Eurocity trains (the InterRegio trains offer connec­tions between Lugano, Locarno and Zurich). The TILO services provide the connec­tions if you are travelling between Zurich and Milano.

    TILO train on the S10 line connecting the Swiss canton of Ticino with Lombardia.

    TILO train on the S10 line connecting the Swiss canton of Ticino with Lombardia. Photo David Gubler. Source: Bahnbilder.ch

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