When Traveling Becomes An Odyssey: Dirty And Infested Trains

{flickr|100|campaign} While in the Far West the danger people had to face while traveling by train was being attacked by Indians, the risks that contemporary Italian travelers run are certainly less spectacular, sometimes more insidious, apparently less dangerous. However, they are certainly the cause of strain and rage, at best, and of rushes to the hospital, if the train where you travel has not been sanitized and disinfested in an appropriate way.

The problems of travelers, indeed, do not only derive from the frequent delays that oblige them to postpone meetings, to miss a lesson, to go to work late; problems are also caused by the scarce cleanness of many wagons. Dirty seats, toilettes that youd better not enter in, accumulated dirt: to check the status of the seat of an Italian train before you sit down is certainly a good habit, but this would still be tolerable if you had at least the certainty that you are not assaulted by some kind of insects. Even recently news have reported the cases of people that are attacked by fleas or lice in trains. It seems unbelievable, but even nowadays in Italy you might travel in trains infested by various insects. The latest case to be reported was that of a passenger on the train Padua Milan, who in April had to face a swarm of lice that had came out of a hole in the headrest: due to a number of bites, the passenger had to get off the train and go to the hospital, and was able to leave again the next day. This case was not denied by Trenitalia, which still assured that that train had been disinfested, like all the other trains that travel far and wide in Italy. As the company highlighted, everybody is allowed to get on the trains, with no distinction based on the level of personal hygiene, thus it is not possible to check that all passengers are not bringing undesired passengers on board. However, in this case it is also true that the hole the lice that attacked the woman came out from could not but be noticed by the people who had disinfested the train.

However, besides these extreme cases, for which we might give the benefit of the doubt to those who are supposed to guarantee as safe as possible journeys and a satisfying cleaning service, and considering only the level of cleanliness that characterizes Italian trains, the situation is not so good. A survey carried out in 2008 by Codacons showed that about 38% of Intercity trains had dirty seats and 18% had out of order toilettes, while a very recent survey carried out by Nas on some trains traveling through Lamezia Terme following the report of a tick bite in an Intercity train has shown that there are irregular conditions of cleanliness and hygiene, with dirt and excessive wear of the furniture.

Traveling should be a pleasure, but these days you are lucky when it does not turn into an odyssey.