Rail travel in the Netherlands

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Kabelleger / David Gubler

C messier

Prioritising the traveller, the Dutch railway network is a great way to cross the country. Practically everywhere is reachable by train, having a network of of track. The Dutch network is a well-maintained and well-travelled network. A free travel pass is available to students in the country. Beyond that, the Dutch have eradicated paper tickets fully, using the OV-chipkaart, often shortened to OV-chip or chipkaart, instead. The card either holds data of the route you're travelling (disposable card) or it holds credit or a travel product (personal and anonymous card). The OV-chipkaart (which also works in buses, trolleybuses, trams and metros) is what sets Dutch public transit apart from that of other countries.
This distinction is a recent development, with network maintainer ProRail improving the network, adding and revamping stations during the first quarter of the 21st century. Historically though, the Dutch were late in starting a rail network, having horse-drawn barges on their extensive inland waterways as a perfectly fine alternative for both cargo and people. After the first line proved successful, the 19th century saw a jump to the 'new' mode of transport, only to be too enthusiastic about railways and see many lines fall into disuse or be completely demolished in the 20th century.
Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS, Dutch Railways) have not had a monopoly on rail travel since the 1990s, allowing more domestic and foreign railway operators to join the fun. In modern times, the network can be crowded, but trains are still a great way to see the country.


Historical background


Planning your trip

Buying tickets

Using the train


Trains and rolling stock

Heritage and steam railways

Stay safe

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