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Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) is the principal railway operating company in the Netherlands. There are two kinds of trains: the “Stoptrein”, that stops at all stations and is mainly used for local traffic, and the “Intercity”, that only stops at larger stations.
If you are looking for information about train travels within the Netherlands, visit the NS site.
For international train travel, see here.
Paying for a train travel is possible by using your OV-chipkaart. You need to ensure that you check in at your departure station and out at your arrival station. If you will be traveling on different train operators, additionally you also need to check in and out for each train company along the route that you take. If you forget to do this, you can be fined. Note: If you change from one NS train to another NS train, you do not have to check out and check in again.
An example using two different train companies:
You will travel by train from Assen to Leeuwarden. This involves two train companies: NS from Assen to Groningen and Arriva from Groningen to Leeuwaarden.
Step 1: Before you get in the train to leave from Assen, check in at the NS smart card reader.
Step 2: When you arrive in Groningen, check out at the NS smart card reader, AND before you get in the train to leave Groningen for Leeuwarden, check-in at the Arriva smart card reader.
Step 3: When you arrive in Leeuwaarden, check out at the Arriva smart card reader.
At the time of this publication, it is still possible to buy a single-use OV-chipkaart at one of the ticket machines with a surcharge fee of 1 euro on most trips. In addition, one can buy an e-ticket online. When buying a train ticket at a manned ticket office you will be charged extra, compared to buying a ticket from a machine. Also, many machines do not accept credit cards.
NS offers different tickets: varying from single (enkel) tickets and return (retour) tickets to day travel cards and tickets for young children, dogs and bikes. Frequent travelers can benefit from several reduction passes (for instance, passes that allow traveling with 40% reduction in off-peak hours or traveling for free during the weekend.)
Monthly and annual season tickets are also available. You can be fined if you travel without a valid ticket or if you have not correctly checked in and out with your OV–chipkaart.
Often there are also offers for day train ticket at various shops, e.g., at Hema, Blokker, Albert Heijn, etc.