Netherlands - General Information

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Country Name

Netherlands (Nederland)

National Railway System

National Railway Operator

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (https://www.ns.nl/en NS]) is the principal passenger carrier, which operates through various subsidiary companies, including:

  • NS Reizigers - Domestic passenger services
  • NS International - International passenger services.

Thalys services to the Netherlands are operated by a stand-alone company owned by SNCF (62%), SNCB/NMBS (28%) and DB (10%); NS is not a partner.

There is no longer a national freight operator. The former NS freight operation has been sold and is a subsidiary of DB Schenker (see below). Open access freight operators have a considerable market share. Some of the more important freight operators currently seen on Netherlands tracks are DB Schenker Rail Nederland, ACTS Nederland, ERS Railways, Rotterdam Rail Feeding and Captrain Benelux (SNCF).

Language

Dutch

Currency

Euro

UIC code

Numeric 84; alpha NL

Timetable

As of 14 December 2014, every station should be served twice an hour.

Journey Planner

Downloadable Timetable

Download dienstregeling > Voor een compleet overzicht > Trajectnummers nn t/m nn (where nn represents the range of table numbers. Timetable PDF's are available only in the Dutch version.

Printed Timetable

Treinreiziger offers a paper Spoorboekje for 2018-2019. NS discontinued paper timetables after the 2009-2010 edition.

Engineering Information

The current situation on the tracks.

Real Time Train Information

Real time train running information is available on the Treinenradar and Spoorkaart websites.

Maps

Printed Maps

Web-based Maps

Ticketing

All stations are equipped with ticket machines which all accept debit and credit cards (V PAY, Maestro, Mastercard, Visa and American Express). However, some foreign Visa debit cards are not accepted. Some machines accept coins as well. All machines offer domestic tickets and some provide international tickets to Belgium, and a selection of destinations in Germany. All tickets contain a chip to validate your ticket. Booking offices at small stations have almost all been closed. A surcharge is payable at booking offices when buying a ticket which is available from a ticket machine.

The smart card OV Chipkaart is the normal ticket on public transport and can be bought at any ticket machine. Machines that add value to an OV Chipkaart accept debit cards issued outside the Netherlands. However, only a few machines (such as at some tobacconists) accept credit cards. Paper tickets continue to be issued from machines and booking offices for rail journeys.

Information on tickets and passes can be found on the NS Individual tickets & supplements page. A supplement is required to travel on the HSL between Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport unless the passenger has a valid international ticket (which includes Interrail). The supplement can be purchased from vending machines. At platforms are dedecated red coloured validating machines for supplement tickets.

Note: ALL tickets from machines MUST be touched in and out with ALL operators used in the correct order, when changing operators en-route. Travellers may be fined if they do not do this.

NS-Zonetaxi (formerly known as treintaxi) tickets include a taxi from/to the railway station for a fixed fare. The service is available in most mid-size towns, but not in Utrecht, Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam. When riding on single or return tickets, trein-taxi tickets should be bought at the departure station. For the return trip by taxi, tickets are best bought in advance, but the taxi driver sells tickets with a small surcharge.

Although more local services are to be franchised over the next few years, a uniform ticketing system, including NS and all franchisees, is being retained.

Special offers: Supermarket chains may offer cheap day tickets from time to time for a limited period. At Amsterdam Schiphol Airport both NS and GVB Amsterdam sell tickets for public transport connections to Amsterdam.NS-Voordeelwinkel has special offers for Eindhoven Airport. Treinreiziger offers news about the Dutch railwaysystem, including the availabillity of discounted tickets.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure Authority

ProRail owns and manages the NS infrastructure and is responsible for traffic control and capacity allocation, under the authority of the minister of transport. On 1 July 2015 the operation of the Betuweroute was transferred to ProRail and the previous owners, Keyrail, ceased to exist.

Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport, part of the Ministry of Transport, is responsible for safety and rolling stock certification.

Network Statement

The Prorail Website gives access to various NS Network Statement documents.

Gauge

Standard.

Electrification

1500 V dc. New high-speed lines and the Betuwe trunk freight line between Rotterdam and Zevenaar (- Emmerich (Germany)) are electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz; Zevenaar - Emmerich was converted to 25 kV in 2016 so that freight trains have to change voltage only once. The Hanzelijn is not officially a high-speed line, so is 1500 V dc. Large-scale conversion to 25 kV 50 Hz in the long term was envisaged but this was abandoned in the late 1990s as too expensive. In 2014 Prorail started a feasibility study into upgrading to 3000 V dc.

Rule of the road

Right, but most lines are reversibly signalled. The following lines have left-hand running:

  • the high speed line from Rotterdam Lombardijen (where there is a flying crossover) to the Belgian border
  • the fast lines between Utrecht Centraal and Bilthoven; there is a flying crossover west of Bilthoven
  • from Roosendaal to the Belgian border
  • from Maastricht to the Belgian border

There are connections between the high speed line and the old line to Breda where they run parallel south of Lage Zwaluwe. The two southbound lines are adjacent, and linked by a long crossover. The connection between the northbound lines crosses over all four tracks on a flyover.

Distances

Wikipedia gives distances for all lines in the Netherlands. Click on the line wanted, and on the right distances for stations are given. Sporeneplan provides an alternative source. Click on the line wanted to reach a schematic line plan, alongside which distances for stations (named in abbreviated code) are given. Neither is an official page and can be out of date. If any user can point to an official source for distance information the compilers would be glad to hear.

Other Railways

Private operators have franchises to work a number of local passenger services over NS lines, thus:

  • Arriva Nederland: Leeuwarden - Harlingen, Leeuwarden - Stavoren, Leeuwarden - Groningen, Groningen - Roodeschool/Eemshaven/Delfzijl, Groningen - Veendam/Bad Nieuweschans - Leer (D), Apeldoorn - Zutphen, Zutphen - Winterswijk, Winterswijk - Arnhem, Arnhem - Tiel, Nijmegen - Venlo - Roermond - Maastricht/Heerlen, Luik (B) - Maastricht - Heerlen - Kerkrade/Aachen (D).
  • Abellio (part of NS): Gouda - Alphen aan den Rijn, Arnhem - Emmerich (D).
  • Blauwnet (Arriva/Keolis/Syntus): Enschede - Almelo - Mariënberg, Kampen -​ Zwolle - Emmen, Zutphen - Hengelo - Oldenzaal.
  • Breng: Doetinchem - Arnhem.
  • Q-Buzz (R-Net): Dordrecht - Geldermalsen
  • Valleilijn (Connexxion): Amersfoort - Ede-Wageningen.

In addition next cross border services are operated: Keolis: Oldenzaal - Bielefeld(D), DB Regio: Enschede - Gronau - Münster / Dortmund Abellio: Arnhem - Düsseldorf (RE19) Regiobahn: Venlo - Düsseldorf - Hamm (RE13)(D), NMBS: local services Roosendaal - Antwerpen (B)

The German based Bentheimer Eisenbahn owns and operates its trunk line from Bentheim to the border at Laarwald and a further 2 km on to Coevorden. The line is freight only; there has never been any significant border crossing passenger traffic, but freight has regained importance in recent times. Coevorden effectively serves as a German rail bridgehead into the Netherlands, traffic mainly consisting of containers that are subsequently road-hauled into the northern provinces.

Tourist Lines

A list of Tourist & Museum Railways and Tramways in English is available on the Historisch Railvervoer Nederland (HRN) website.

Rail cycling is possible on the following sections of line:

  • Grenzland Draisine: based at Kranenburg in Germany, on the former Kleve [DE] - Nijmegen [NL] line, the Grenzenlose trip to Groesbeek (5.5 km one way) covers a portion in the Netherlands
  • Rail Pleasure: Hengelo - Twekkelo (a short stretch of Hengelo - Boekelo line, latterly serving AKZO factory)

Metro

Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Randstad: Den Haag / Hoek van Holland – Rotterdam.

Track plans for all metro systems in the Netherlands are available on the Gleisplanweb site.

Trams

Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam, Utrecht.

Track plans for all tram systems in the Netherlands are available on the Gleisplanweb site.

See also Netherlands - Tram services over obscure routes

Recent and future changes

Future changes

Infrastructure manager ProRail warned in August 2018 that the main line network is ‘almost full’. ProRail said it was ‘running up against the limits’ of its 7 300 track-km network, pointing out that traffic had grown from 129 million train-km in 2004 to 165 million train-km planned for 2019. It added that there would be ‘little point’ in trying to add more infrastructure as there was ‘no room for that’ across the country.

Particular challenges include a marked increase in freight traffic, with 8% more trains expected to run next year compared to this. A major constraint is the amount of stabling and depot space around the network; ProRail says that this shortage at ‘several key locations’ must be ‘quickly addressed’. It expects to begin offering stabling and shunting ‘as a service’ in future in an attempt to optimise use of the facilities available.

Some capacity relief will be provided by the launch of more IC Direct inter-city passenger services over the HSL-Zuid high speed line, which ProRail says will release paths on the conventional network for local trains. Infrastructure work between Amsterdam and Utrecht will also allow ICE services into Germany to be accelerated by 3 min, releasing some capacity.

Looking ahead, the infrastructure manager believes that more capacity can be squeezed out through the deployment of intelligent timetabling tools, particularly aimed at freight trains which often require short notice paths or changes to booked workings. From 2020, the national working timetable will be specified to the nearest 6 sec rather than whole minutes, which ProRail believes will ‘help it better deliver the public timetable’.

Extensive works are under way or recently completed to increase line capacity. These include realignment and quadrupling of lines and construction of flyovers at junctions. Electrification of Nijmegen - Venlo should be completed by 2020.

The (Rotterdam -) Schiedam Centrum - Hoek van Holland line closed on 1 April 2017 is to reopen as Metro line B, Hoek van Holland - Nesseland. A 1.6 km extension from Hoek van Holland Strand to a new terminus near the beach was planned to open later with timescales of September 2017 for reopening of the former and early 2018 for the latter. As at August 2018, the European Rail Timetable newsletter claimed it will not open until early 2019 The RET website for further information.

On 10 October 2017, the coalition government agreed plans to reopen Weert - Hamont, with co-financing from regional authorities, following the reopening of Neerpelt - Hamont by SNCB. On 9 November the governments concluded an agreement to electrify the line.

The "Iron Rhine" freight line between Roermond and Dalheim (Germany) is planned to reopened for traffic between Antwerpen and the Ruhr. However this has been delayed by a dispute between the Dutch and Belgian governments, which has gone to arbitration.

Recent changes

Work started in April 2018 to electrify Landgraaf - Herzogenrath (Germany), with electric Maastricht - Heerlen - Aachen services starting in December 2018. The Heerlen - Aachen service had been reduced to Heerlen - Hertzogenrath from 13 December 2015.

The 'Intercity Direct' service between Amsterdam and Brussel/Bruxelles (the successor to the former Benelux service) was diverted via the HSL Zuid and Breda [reverse] from 9 April 2018, thus opening for passenger traffic the curve southwards from Breda towards the Belgian border.

Work to adapt Rotterdam Centraal station to accommodate Eurostar services (principally security screening) was completed on 26 March 2018.

The ca 700 m branch to the existing Roodeschool terminus closed 5 January 2018. The new station on the currently freight only Eemshaven branch opened 8 January 2018. Passenger services were extended to Eemshaven on 28 March 2018, using a newly built short branch built to the Borkum ferry passenger terminal.

Electric services between Zwolle and Kampen started on 10 December 2017. Electrification of Zwolle - Almelo was completed in October 2016 and Syntus introduced electric trains from 10 December 2017.

The previous viaduct section through Delft was replaced by a 3,400 metre long tunnel section on 1 March 2015

The new 6.75 km Maasvlakte-West - Maasvlakte II (Euromax-terminal) "Buitencontour" line entered service at the end of 2012. The 50 km-long Hanzelijn connecting Lelystad and Zwolle opened on 9 December 2012. It uses Alstom's ATB system and Atlas signalling system, which is compatible with the ERTMS Level 2 standard.

The Hemboog curve opened in 2003, providing a direct connection between the Zaandam and Schiphol lines. The Utrechtboog curve opened in 2006, providing a direct connection between the Utrecht and Schiphol lines and bypassing Duivendrecht station to the southwest. Zuidbroek to Veendam (Groningen province) passenger service started in December 2011.

The Betuwe line trunk freight railway from Rotterdam to Emmerich opened for traffic in June 2007 but in mid 2008 was still only seeing limited use. Since October 2008 it is fully operational with 4 paths per hour each way.

The Sloelijn, a new electrified freight line to the Vlissingen port area, branching off the Roosendaal-Vlissingen main line near Lewedorp, opened 8 October 2008, replacing a former local line retained for this traffic.

Randstadrail is a new light rail system connecting the tramways of Den Haag and the Rotterdam metro. The Den Haag CS - Leidschendam-Voorburg - Rotterdam Hofplein/Zoetermeer line has been removed from the national rail network. Hofplein has closed and the light rail vehicles operate in a tunnel to Rotterdam Centraal station. A branch has been added to the Zoetermeer line, to Javalaan, and is being extended further to 'BleiZo' tram/train station by December 2018.

NS Hispeed launched Amsterdam - Rotterdam passenger services, branded as Fyra, over HSL-Zuid on 7 September 2009, using electric locomotives and rakes of ICR coaches at a maximum speed of 160 km/h as an interim solution. Trains are initially running from Amsterdam Centraal, pending a switch to Amsterdam Zuid once its development has progressed further. This service has since been extended to Breda, using the high speed line to south of Lage Zwaluwe. Thalys services were diverted onto HSL-Zuid from 13 December 2009, running at up to 160 km/h between Schiphol and Rotterdam and at 300 km/h from south of Rotterdam to Antwerpen. 300 km/h running with ERTMS level 2 on the Rotterdam - Schiphol section started in December 2010. The high speed Fyra service, using the much delayed V250 electric units, finally started revenue earning service between Amsterdam and Rotterdam on 29 July 2012. The service to Antwerpen and Brussels, due to start in December 2011, started on 9 December 2012. However, Fyra international services had to be withdrawn due to technical problems with the V250 units. As replacement, the former Benelux service (IC-Brussel) via Roosendaal has been reintroduced and rebranded as 'Intercity Direct' albeit now diverted via Brussels Airport. This was further diverted onto the High Speed line via Noorderkempen to serve Breda [reverse] from 9 April 2018.

The Utrecht - Amsterdam-Bijlmer section has been upgraded to 4 tracks. The Woerden - Harmelen - Utrecht section has been upgraded to 4 tracks, apart from the bridge over the Amsterdam-Rhine canal at Utrecht. Utrecht - Houten Zuid has been upgraded to 4 tracks.

In summer 2009 NS experimented for 5 days with "no timetable" operation on the Amsterdam - Eindhoven line, running 6 IC trains, 6 stopping trains and 2 freights per hour. No problems were encountered, so it will be repeated over a 4 week period in September 2010 but, unlike in 2009, with no extra staff or rolling stock rostered to cover any problems. Any further development of this concept is at a standstill owing to lack of finance.

Arriva took over operation of the Zutphen - Winterswijk, Zutphen - Apeldoorn, Arnhem - Winterswijk and Arnhem - Tiel lines from Syntus/NS and of Zwolle - Emmen from NS in December 2012. In 2013 Arriva took over Almelo - Mariënberg from Connexxion.

Special notes

Many trains worked by multiple units split en route to serve more than one destination. External displays may show the destination of each portion; newer train sets are provided with internal displays as well. The number of each unit is displayed prominently in each carriage and when trains divide public address announcements usually refer to these to inform passengers where each unit is going.

The freight line to Terneuzen is accessible only from Gent in Belgium.

Wifi

Most stations have free internet access via KPN hotspots. NS Intercity trains have free internet by 'Wifi in de trein' provided by T-mobile, other operators like Arriva and Veolia offer free wifi in their trains. The Beneluxservice Amsterdam-Brussels v.v. is not provided with wifi.

See also