Trains and Rail Travel in the Netherlands

Route maps and booking information for the national rail service, regional trains and the urban train network: to help you find your way around the Netherlands...

The Dutch rail service has modern, fast trains. Most stations are in or near town centres.

The relatively short distances mean that travelling time between destinations is quick.

Further information on travel times and timetables on the website of Dutch rail - Nederlandse Spoorwegen, (NS).

Types of Train

There are two types of services provided by the train network:

  • Intercity (or express) trains provide a direct link between the main cities
  • Local trains stop at every station along the way

High speed train services runs between Amsterdam and Paris, with stops in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels. Bicycles must be folded or stored with the front wheel removed in a 120x90 cm bag.

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) also operates a domestic high speed train service which runs between Amsterdam and Breda, with a stop in Rotterdam. Passengers are required to purchase a supplement to the standard train fare. This can be done at a ticket machine, a ticket desk, or on the train platform by swiping an OV-Chipkaart in front of a "red" card reader. The red card reader is for supplement only and it should be used after the yellow card reader, which starts a journey.

Buying Tickets

There are various types of ticket. Tickets can be bought from ticket vending machines or ticket windows (one way and return tickets bought from a vending machine will be cheaper). Passengers travelling without a valid ticket will be fined. Only the major cities have ticket machines that will accept credit card, with the majority of machines only accepting a Dutch (or EU) bank card or coins (no notes). This can be frustrating for new arrivals, many of whom do not have a Dutch bank card or €15 euro in loose change.

Note: Tickets may not be bought on a train.

OV Chipkaart

Buying a paper ticket is no longer strictly an option. The public transport system has moved to a smart card system called an OV-Chipkaart. These are available as a personalised product only available to residents (with photo and the opportunity to buy season tickets of various kinds) or anonymous (at a cost of €7.50 plus transport costs). Personal chipkaarts must maintain a balance of €10 or more while anonymous chipkaarts must maintain a balance of €20 or more.

The OV-Chipkaart must be swiped at a yellow card reader or turnstile at the beginning and at the end of the journey. Passengers who forget to checkout, are charged an amount equal to an entire day of unlimited travel (which will be substantially higher than a standard one-way fare).

For travellers without any kind of chipkaart, a one-off ticket may be purchased. This is issued on a thick piece of cardboard (oddly called a paperless ticket) and there is an extra €1 cost for this ticket type.

One-off trips are best served by:

  • One Way (Enkele reis) and Day Return (Dagretour)
  • Day Ticket (Dagkaart) and OV Dagkaart which allow unlimited travel around the country for one day (the OV is valid for train, bus, tram and metro)
  • Railrunner for children aged 4 to 11 to travel under adult supervision (19 years or older) for a fixed low price. A maximum of 3 children per adult may travel at the Railrunner price
  • More information on travelling with the OVChipkaart (in English)

Bicycles are not allowed on trains in the morning and evening rush hours (except during July and August). Certain cars on the train have dedicated areas with additional space for passengers with bikes. Passengers transporting bicycles must enter through the train doors marked with a bicycle symbol. It is necessary to buy a Bike day ticket (Dagkaart Fiets).The exception to this rule is a small foldable bike (vouwfiets) that is permitted on the train at peak times and without the need to buy a ticket. These are popular with commuters.

Station Facilities

Departure times and platform numbers are shown on the yellow boards in all Dutch train stations. Platform numbers, departure times, routes taken and the final destination are also shown on the blue and white boards.

Luggage lockers are available in most stations and can be rented by the day.

Other Services

BikeShare programs (OV Fiets )

Most major stations will have a bikeshare installation nearby. Bikes are owned by NS and the ability to rent one is a virtual product that is purchased for around €10 per year and 'loaded' onto the personalised OVChipkaart. This product is not available to non-residents. Up to two bikes may be rented using a single card, and the bikes may be used for up to 72 hours at a small daily cost. The amount owed is billed monthly. Helmets, bike bags and child seats are not available.

Lost property

The NS will keep lost property for up to five days free of charge and it is then transferred to the Central Lost & Found office in Utrecht, where it is kept for three months. First - within five days - go to the station where the luggage was lost or first noticed to be missing.

If it is not found, fill in a trace request form available from all stations, or contact the following number:

  • Tel: 0900 321 2100 from 08:00-20:00 (calls from within the Netherlands only)
  • Detailed information (in English) on reclaiming lost luggage or items forgotten on a train

Delays and refunds

The NS will refund train delays of over 30 minutes in certain circumstances. Delays of 30 to 60 minutes are refunded 50 percent of the fare. More than a 60 minute delay will result in a full refund. This does not apply in the case of national power failures or if the delay was planned in advance, for example in case of track works.

Disabled passengers

Most manned stations offer assistance from NS service staff agents to help when boarding and disembarking from the train. This service is available to wheelchair users, the visually impaired and other disabled people, as well as those who are temporarily disabled.

Train schedules are available to hearing and sight impaired people in spoken text, Braille and digitally; the website accommodates digital Braille readers.

  • Sight impaired: information on schedules Tel: +31 (0) 486 486486).
  • Hearing impaired: information on schedules Tel: +31 (0) 30 2353935

Trains are accessible to most wheelchairs, although some restrictions are applied to width and weight. Fuel-based motor vehicles are excluded from trains, but special scooters may sometimes be allowed, depending on the time of day and number of people travelling. Journey helpers are available at most stations and train conductors are available on all routes to assist with train wheelchair ramps and other needs.

How to apply for assistance

  • Bureau Assistentieverlening Gehandicapten (Disabled Assistance Office)
    Tel: +31 (0) 30 2357822

Apply for assistance at least three hours prior to the intended departure time. Inform the Disabled Assistance Office of the planned journey, the departure/arrival time and the stations of departure and arrival; discuss a meeting point for the service assistant.