Train tickets

NS Intercity train entering Zwolle

This pages informs you about train tickets in Holland.

Railway companies

In the Netherlands  several railway companies are active, sometimes using different commercial names for their route.For the following companies your tickets may cover more than one network and are valid at each others networks:

  • NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen), national railway company,owner of the national Intercity network and several regional networks.
  • Veolia, a regional operator, running two railway lines in Limburg and bus lines. (Web site only in Dutch).
  • Arriva a regional operator in the North of the country and a line from Dordrecht to Geldermalsen (web site partly in English)
  • Synthus, a regional operator in the eastern part of the country. Website in Dutch only.

Your ticket also is valid in some international trains, but if you wish tot travel with ICE International, Fyra or Thalys, you must pay an extra amount. This is indicated at the departure signs with the words "Toeslag verplicht".

At all other lines and in buses train tickets are not valid.

Where to buy your ticket?

You can buy tickets at the ticket offices in the larger railway stations. Sometimes, near smaller stations you find a private shop selling tickets.  It also may happen that you can buy a ticket inside the station in a drug store. If you buy a ticket in the official ticket office, you pay Euro 0.50 extra, because NS prefers that you buy your ticket at the vending machine.

For the Dutch, this is sufficient to buy tickets at the vending machines. The vending machines also have menu in English language (select the UK flag at the bottom of the screen). You can pay with Euro coins, but not with bank notes. It also will accept Maestro payment cards, so take care you know your PIN code.

Here you find a demo of the vending machine. (I think the demo is a bit outdated).

You normally cannot buy tickets in the train. If you do not have a valid ticket, you have to pay Euro 35 additionally, unless all vending machines are broken, which sometimes happens.

What ticket do I need?

Adults need a one way ticket or a return ticket. Return tickets do not provide you any advantage. NS also sells discount subscriptions, but you need a Dutch bank account to order them.

You can use the OV-chipcard as well for your train trips. But please note some additional rules:

  • You need to activate the OV-Chipcardat the NS ticket office  before you can start using it.
  • You need a deposit of at least Euro 20 on your card.
  • You need to choose between first class or second class. A one time class change can be activated at the ticket vending machine.
  • If you change, there is no need to check-out, unless you change to a train of another railwaiy company. (With but, tram or metor you always need to check out when you change)
  • If several railway companies share the same station, be aware to use the check-in and check-out of the proper railway company. If you use the wrong one, you still pay and at the same time your ticket is not valid.
  • If you change from railway company, you pay twice the startup fare. Therefore it is recommended not to use the OV-Chipcard in this case. (This rule probably will be changed some day...)

For your kids

Kids till four years old travel for free. They don't need a ticket, proviede they don't need their own seat.

Kids till twelve years old can use the "railrunner" tickets. It costs Euro 2.50 ) and is valid if accompanied by an adult. One adult may accompany up to three children. Only in exceptional circumstances for very short distances this is not advantageous.

Kids till twelve years old travel at reduces fares, if kids travel alone or if you travel with more than three kids per adult, they will need to buy a reduced fare ticket (40% discount).

Travel during weekend

A return ticket is valid for only one day. If travel between Friday 19:00 and Monday 4:00 AM, you can buy a "weekendretour". This is a return ticket, but it is valid in the whole period.

Other advantages

Sometimes NS sells special holiday tickets. If you visit Holland as for it at the ticket office.They may give you low price weekend ticket, or even a cheap first class one day pass partout ticket.

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