Q:A recent train trip from Naples, Italy, to Sicily was lengthened by nearly two hours because the train had to be disassembled and rolled on tracks onto a ferry to get across the Strait of Messina, and then reassembled once we got to the other side. During the process, though extremely fascinating, there was no power to the train cars, and as such, no air conditioning. Why can’t they just have the passengers get off a train in Villa San Giovanni in Reggio Calabria and get onto another train in Messina instead of taking apart trains for the watery passage that separates mainland Italy from the island? What’s up with that?

A: Two words: customer comfort, said Gaetano Pellizzervilla, a spokesman with the train company, Trenitalia. Many passengers are onboard for a long trip, and often have quite a number of bags and luggage, he said. It would be more troublesome to have those passengers leave the comfort of the train car, haul belongings onto the ferry, and then back onto another train.

“We want our clients to travel as comfortably as possible, so we wouldn’t ask them to make all those transfers,” he said. There are two types of ferries that transit the Strait of Messina: a smaller one that carries pedestrians and smaller vehicles, and a larger one that is equipped with tracks to accommodate trains, both passenger and industrial, he said. Passengers who are uncomfortable remaining in the train cars during the sail across the strait can get out of the cars once they are secured for the voyage. The trip back and forth across the strait takes roughly 30 minutes.

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