Travelling by train in most European cities is very convenient, reliable and safe. The services are efficient and if booked early, you could get an inexpensive ticket on promotion. On-line booking is straight forward, easy and confirmation is almost instantaneous. About the only headache is finding the assigned platform of your train at the station. More often than not, your destination is NOT listed on the departure information board !
The reason …… the departure information board will show the station your train terminates. If your destination is in between the departure station and the station it terminates (last station), chances are, you won’t find the name of your station you’ll getting-off. So, how do you find which platform your train will be departing from? Mind you, most main train stations have many platforms, probably more than 10.
I’ll show an example below. My departure station is Milano Centrale and I am travelling to Lugano. Looking at the departure information board, Lugano is NOT listed. You will then need to refer to your ticket to see what train you will be taking. In my case, it will be ‘EuroCity 14′ departing at 10:25. This will be your key information to finding your train and platform.
You will then need to refer to the departure information board looking for ‘EuroCity 14‘ departing at 10:25. From the departure information board below, you’ll see the destination is Zurich HB instead of Lugano. This means, your train will terminate it’s service at Zurich HB (last station). You then search for the platform your train will depart. In my case, the platform number hasn’t been assigned yet.
On newer information board, a scrolling list of station stops will be displayed. This makes it a little easier and reassuring rather than the need to ask around or completely miss your train.
On the subject of choosing a front-facing or back-facing seat, this is a 50/50 chance. At most major train stations, the rail tracks terminates at the station. To continue the journey, the driver will get off the front cab and move to the back. When the train pulls out, the back of the train is now the front. Your front-facing seat now becomes a back-facing seat.
Milan Centrale, Venice Santa Lucia, Florence Santa Maria Novella and Roma Termini all has the tracks terminate at the station. In comparison, Pisa Central is a ‘pass-through’ station, so you maintain your seat configuration.