The Netherlands is made up of more than 400 train stations. Not every station is as big or as impressive as Amsterdam Central. But every station has an NS ticket machine for you to buy a ticket. Larger stations also have an information desk, where you can ask questions and get advice. Many stations offer opportunities to shop for food, reading material and much more.
Train traveling in the Netherlands is a comfortable and easy way to get around the country. Because of its small size, you can get to Utrecht from Amsterdam in just 30 minutes. And traveling from Amsterdam Central to Maastricht (in the south of the country) will only take you 2.5 hours.
Understanding the Dutch train ticket
There are a number of tickets - ranging from singles and returns - when it comes to traveling on a Dutch train. But you can’t get paper tickets anymore. Residents travel using a chip card (‘OV-chipkaart’). Visitors can purchase an anonymous chip card, which can be used on all forms of public transport. Before traveling, you’ll have to add credit to your chip card via a NS ticket machine. If you would like to travel by train, you will need at least € 20 worth of credit on your card.
But for those traveling by train very sparingly (to/from the airport, for example), an exception has been made. For these journeys, it is possible to purchase a one-journey paper chip ticket, which includes a surcharge (currently € 1). To avoid the surcharge, you could purchase this e-ticket online. You must always print and carry it with you during your journey. Be sure that the barcode is clearly visible and can be scanned at stations or by on-board conductors.
Important! The use of chip cards means it is necessary to ‘check in’ at the start of your journey and ‘check out’ at your destination. Use the ‘OV-chipkaart’ pillars located at the station to do so.
First or Second Class?
Most NS trains offer separate First and Second Class sections. In most cases, your Dutch train ticket will be for a Second Class seat. If you would like to upgrade, you can do so at one of the NS ticket machines.
There are multiple ways to find out what time your train departs. For a general overview, look for the yellow display boards at the station, showing the typical daily schedule in printed format. Departure signs can be found on the platforms next to where the train departs. At many stations, they can also be found in the station hall. These will tell you what time the train departs, from which platform and where it will stop along the way.
The NS station staff are always more than happy to help with any questions you might have. Don’t forget to listen to the loudspeaker announcements. Changes in departure times will be announced and displayed on the relevant departure signs.
Accessible travel by Dutch train
Most of the Dutch trains have wheelchair-friendly facilities, and many of the stations are equipped with lifts, ramps and escalators. For more information on accessible travel, call the ‘Disabled Assistance’ helpline: +31 (0)30 230 5566.
Traveling on a Dutch train with your bicycle
Would you like your bicycle to see as much of the Netherlands as you do? It is possible to take your bike with you on the train. However, only between 9:00 and 16:30 and after 18:00, i.e. outside of peak hours. You will need to store your bike in the bicycle-labeled areas on the train. And don't forget to buy a bicycle ticket from a NS ticket machine.