The Netherlands has a very well developed, highly connected and heavily used railway network. The main railway operator NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) handles 1.1 million passengers every day. There are very good links between all cities in the country, commonly with a few of trains travelling per hour, and many of these lines run 24 hours a day.
You can pay for your journey in a number of ways:
If you have an OV chipkaart, you can just scan in and out using the OV scanners on the gates that you will walk through in the station. In the same way as local public transport, when you scan in, a temporary ‘boarding rate’ is deducted from your card, and the difference between this rate and the cost of your journey is refunded when you scan out.
The boarding rate for rail travel is €20, therefore if you do not have this amount of credit on your card you will not be able to scan in. If you have a card that grants you a discount on specific travelling hours, then this boarding rate is instead €10. Of course, if you forget to check out (which does happen), you will not get the price difference refunded and you will then have paid the boarding rate for your journey.
If you do not want to use the OV, then you can of course buy a ticket for your journey the normal way. You can buy a ticket from either the ticket desk, a yellow ticket machine which can be found throughout the train station, or online. At the ticket desk you can pay with cash, but the ticket will be a little more expensive. With the ticket machine you can only pay by card.
The ticket machine can be a tricky to use the first time you encounter it. It only works with certain card types, you should check which type yours is by the symbol it has and match this to the payment option once you have chosen your destination and ticket type. You will then receive a card receipt and the ticket itself, don’t get them confused, or leave your proper ticket behind!
There are a few different types of ticket you can buy. Obviously, if you are just taking a one way journey, you should buy a single ticket. If you are travelling to a destination and coming back on the same day, then you should buy a Day Return ticket. If you will be returning from a destination on a different day, then you should buy two single tickets. Day tickets are valid until 0400 of the next morning.
If you are travelling to returning from a destination over the weekend, you can instead buy a weekend return. This is like a Day Return, except you do not have to return on the same day as your outward journey. This is valid from 1900 Friday to 0400 Monday.
You can work out how much your journey will cost with the GVB trip calculator
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