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I'm going to visit Naples soon and want to take Circumvesuviana train in order to get to Herculano and Pompei. So I have a couple of questions answers to which I cannot google. I prefer to ask these questions here instead of figuring out at the place because as far as I know the locals speak poor English so it should be easier to find the information here. So my questions are:

  1. I need to take a train from Napoli Porta Nolano to Herculano Sciavi. Are the tickets there sold for a precise time, like departure at 8 a.m. so I should take exactly this train or I can just buy tickets to Herculano and take this route train departing at any time?

  2. When buying tickets should I buy back tickets as well? Or I can buy back tickets at the Herculano Sciavi station? I guess the answer to this should be yes but I would like to know for sure.

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Generally speaking, for regional and local trains in Italy you buy a ticket and validate it before boarding ("obliterare" in italian). If you can't find any validating machine, board the train and immediately go look for the conductor or ticket inspector to notify. Tickets are usually one way, so you need one from A to B and one from B to A. Sometimes vending machines can sell the return fare and print two tickets.
Basic fare tickets have no boarding time restrictions, just use them before expiration (30 or 90 days after purchase).

How to get to "Ercolano scavi" then? Ercolano municipality official website has english instructions available too.

EAV Circumvesuviana

By Train From Naples – Garibaldi Square, take the EAV – CIRCUMVESUVIANA company, direction to Sorrento or Poggiomarino.There are two stops in Ercolano: the ERCOLANO –SCAVI that is near the Archaeological ruins, and the ERCOLANO– MIGLIO D’ORO that is near the ancient villas of Miglio d’oro, some of which are visitable. The travel time is 20 minutes.
The Archaelogical site is 700 metres (about 0.5 miles) far from the ERCOLANO-SCAVI stop

You can look for timetables in their official website http://time1.eavsrl.it/ (yeah, no https)

Trenitalia

You can arrive here also with TRENITALIA company in this case stop at Portici-Ercolano railway station. The archaeological ruins are 1.6 km far. (about 1 mile)

In this case you can buy tickets online on https://www.trenitalia.com/ from "Napoli Piazza Garibaldi" to "Portici-Ercolano". Fare is 1.6€ one way. If you buy online, your ticket will have date and time you indicated at time of purchase, no need to validate it when boarding.
This train stop is a little bit farther from the ruins, about double the distance.

Extra suggestions

  • Plan extra time for delays and cancellations. Major italian economic newspaper "Il sole 24 ore" recently ranked EAV - Circumvesuviana 1st of the 10 worst railways of Italy.
  • Make sure to bring enough water with you if travelling during spring/summer.
  • Pay a lot of attention to street scammers, they are very prominent in all italian tourist destinations.
  • If train is packed, remove your backpack when standing.
  • Restrooms might not be available on train.
  • Thank you for your response Alessandro! One thing that I still need to clarify is do I need to buy return tickets in Naples before I depart or I can buy them at Herculanum Sciavi (or Pompei Sciavi or any other station)? – Andrey Chernukha Dec 18 '19 at 11:24
  • @AndreyChernukha Usually tickets can be bought at vending machines in all stations. If machines are unavailable, board the train and go talk immediately to ticket inspector. I recommend buying return ticket before departing though. – Alessandro Da Rugna Dec 18 '19 at 19:11
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The circumvesuviana trains are local mass transit. Used by people to get to their jobs, schools, to go shopping etc. As such they are part of the integrated public transit system of Campania. This is managed by the Unico Campania consortium.

Having an integrated system is quite common in Europe and one of the consequences is hat you can’t really buy tickets for the Circumvesuviana train. What you in stead buy is an ticket for a certain number of zones from Naples, valid on all modes for a certain time.

So for Herculaneum you would buy a two zone ticket (NA 2) which would be valid for 120 minutes. For Pompei you would need three zones. You can also buy a day ticket for a bit more than two single tickets. So if you want to do both Herculaneum and Pompei on the same day just buy a three zones day ticket and all your travels are covered.

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  1. No, from what I can tell you buy your ticket when you get to the station, and it's valid for a fixed time period. I've seen lots of references to overcrowded trains with people standing so there's definitely not mandatory seat reservations!

  2. I think there are multiple options available, but it's hard to find out what they are. It seems that you can buy tickets valid for an hour or three hours, but you can also buy a three-day pass. I don't know what the prices are for this. In either case be careful, as I've seen lots of reports of tourists being short changed or given a cheaper ticket than they asked for but charged the higher amount.

Also note that though I don't know how it works for this system, tickets tend to need validating in Italy, so I imagine you could buy all the tickets you need at the start of your trip then validate them just before you travel.

  • Validate a ticket? What is this? – Andrey Chernukha Dec 17 '19 at 12:19
  • Put the ticket into a machine, probably on the platform, to stamp the current date and time. – Mark Perryman Dec 17 '19 at 13:16

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