Taking the train in the Netherlands is common and an easy facility for tourists to use. The NS, which is the abbreviation for Dutch Railways (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) tries to facilitate for all customers and offers a wide range of services. Most cities with tourism highlights have train stations so if you are planning your trip to one of these cities you can assume you can take the train from Amsterdam. Information about tickets, departure times, facilities, assistance and accessibility is given below.
At least one ticketing machine is available at every train station. You can also buy your ticket at the NS Service desks. If you have a functional disability but do not have an OV-Begeleiderskaart (Public Transport Companion Pass), you can apply for an exemption pass.
An OV-Begeleiderskaart (Public Transport Companion Pass] allows a companion to travel with you free of charge in the train, metro, tram or bus.
The OV-Begeleiderskaart is in your name which means that you are not required to be accompanied by the same companion on every journey.
The OV-Begeleiderskaart is valid for at least one year.
You can use the OV-Begeleiderskaart for the train, metro, tram, bus and Regiotaxi (regional taxi).
Conditions for Public Transport Companion Pass:
Both you and your companion must be at least 12 years of age.
You and your companion must complete the entire journey together.
The OV-Begeleiderskaart allows your companion to travel with you free of charge, but you are still required to purchase a standard ticket.
Only an authorised Journey Assistant is allowed to operate the bridge plate. Your companion is not allowed to do this.
Information about departure times
The departure times are listed on electronic notice boards. The times however, are not broadcasted, so if you are visually impaired you have to go to a service desk or call in advance about the travel times. There are Braille trails on many stations. You can also find a map with al the railways and stations on the train stations. If you are arranging your train journey beforehand you can visit the website to look up departure times and get train tickets. This website is available in English.
Accessibility in the train
Most trains have an entrance for wheelchairs, which is marked by a wheelchair symbol and or pink ITS symbol (International Accessibility Symbol). Most of the time those entrances have one or two steps, but are wider and are spacious once inside. This part of the train has space to put the wheelchair and stay in the wheelchair, because there are retractable seats. The double trains have a wheelchair accessible toilet.
You can request a journey assistent to help you at the train station or in the train. You can prearrange a journey assistant when you'd like someone to join you during your train trip or you can request assistance at the train station. It is advices to arrange this at least 3 hours in advance.
The NS has mobile ramps to attach to the trains for people using a scooter or wheelchair. These are available at most stations and an employee from the train company will install the mobile ramp at the entrance so you can enter the train. In order to let your train journey go smoothly, it's advised to call the NS in advance to arrange a mobile ramp.
Accessibility at train stations
The majority of stations in the Netherlands provide accessibility for people with a mobility, sight or hearing impairment. The train stations are made accessible with elevators, ramps and tactile guide lines. If you need assistance to get into the train, you need to call 3 hours in advance to arrange a mobile ramp for the train. At train stations of most cities you will find a service desk with people who can provide you with information at all times. At the smaller stations, you will find a service pillar (with Braille) which you can contact the NS with.
NS Service Desks are equipped to allow travellers to plug in the audio input of their hearing aids. Cords are not provided so passengers who wish to make use of this service will need to bring their own.
To request assistance during the train journey you can call the NS Service desk for access needs 24/7:
Telephone +31 (0)30-2357822
In the event of problems or to cancel your journey: +31 (0)30-235722
Information about the accessibility of the train stations can be found on the Transport page of this website.
About the author
Veroniek is the founder of Accessible Travel Netherlands and works on marketing, sales and group bookings.