Public transport in the Netherlands

Public transport in the Netherlands

The main public transport (nl) in the Netherlands for longer distances is by train. Long-distance buses are limited to a few missing railway connections. Regional and local public transport is by bus, and in some cities by metro and tram. Also there are ferries.

There are 19 public transport authorities in the Netherlands: the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, OV-bureau Groningen Drenthe (OVBGD), each of the 10 other provinces, Regio Twente, Stadsregio Arnhem Nijmegen, Bestuur Regio Utrecht (BRU), Stadsregio Amsterdam, Stadsgewest Haaglanden, Stadsregio Rotterdam (SRR), and Samenwerkingsverband Regio Eindhoven (SRE).

They issue concessions for regions or specific lines.[1]

The main operators are Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), Veolia Transdev (Connexxion and Veolia Transport Nederland), Arriva, Syntus, and the local operators GVB, GVU,[2] HTM, and RET.




Railway tracks for public transport in the Netherlands

Rail transport for public transport is operated mainly by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), minor parts by Arriva, Syntus, Connexxion, DB Regionalbahn Westfalen, Veolia Transport Nederland and Prignitzer Eisenbahn (PE Holding AG, Arriva) (for the two German operators, see transportation to Enschede). The Dutch rail network is the busiest network in the entire world[citation needed].


All metros have standard gauge, 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in).

Tram / light rail


All trams have standard gauge, 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in).

  • Rotterdam, Schiedam, Vlaardingen, Barendrecht operated by RET
    • lines: 2 Charlois - Lombardijen NS, 4 Molenlaan - CS - Marconiplein, 7 Willemsplein - CS - Woudestein, 8 Spangen - CS - Kleiweg, 11 CS - Blijdorp - CS, 20 Schiebroek - CS - Lombardijen, 21 Schiedam Woudhoek - CS - De Esch, 23 Vlaardingen Holy - CS - Beverwaard, 25 Schiebroek - CS - Carnisselande, total length appr. 100 km
  • Utrecht, Nieuwegein, IJsselstein, operated by Connexxion (light rail in the sense of intermediate form between tram and train, with its own right-of-way, with level crossings with priority).
    • Stops for both branches: Moreelsepark - Stadsbusstation - Westplein - Graadt van Roggenweg - Ziekenhuis Oudenrijn - Vijf Meiplein - Vasco da Gamalaan - Kanaleneiland Zuid - Westraven - Zuilenstein - Batau Noord - Wijckersloot - Nieuwegein Centrum.
    • Further stops on Nieuwegein branch: Merwestein - Fokkesteeg - Wiersdijk - Nieuwegein Zuid.
    • Further stops on IJsselstein branch: St. Antonius Ziekenhuis - Doorslag - Hooge Waard - Eiteren - Clinckhoef - Achterveld - Binnenstad - Zenderpark

RandstadRail and other light rail projects

RandstadRail (named after the Randstad agglomeration) connects Rotterdam, The Hague, Zoetermeer and the suburbs in between with each other. One line of the Rotterdam metro system now connects all the way to The Hague central station. From the south end of The Hague, two RandstadRail lines are lightrail connections to Zoetermeer. Existing tram tracks in The Hague have been adapted for the longer and wider vehicles.


Both regional and city public transport bus services can be found throughout the country. Because of the extensive train system, long-distance bus services are limited to a few connections where train connections are missing or would require a considerable detour.

Arnhem has a trolleybus system.

Operators include Arriva, Connexxion, GVB, GVU,[3] Hermes, HTM, Novio (Breng), Qbuzz, RET, Syntus and Veolia Transport Nederland.

Hours of service, and frequency

On most lines there is no public transport at night. Services start earliest on weekdays, later on Saturdays, and even later than that on Sundays. Also there is no public transport in the evening of 31 December.

There is a night service on some train routes. There are night bus services in a number of cities, but only on Friday and Saturday night in the smaller ones. Sometimes these run during the first part of the night only, or in one direction only.[4]

From November to March the stretch Hoek van Holland Haven - Hoek van Holland Strand (not on the hoofdrailnet) is served only between 11 am and 4 pm.

Even apart from special rush hour bus lines, some bus lines do not operate on Sundays.

The frequency of trains is at least 1x per hour, that of metros and trams is always higher, that of buses is sometimes less.

Fares and tickets

The OV-chipkaart is in the process of providing ticket integration for most public transport, while the National Tariff System is being phased out, and paper railway tickets are planned to be abolished at the end of 2012.

A public transport pass for train (2nd class), bus, metro and tram OV-Jaarabonnement (nl) costs € 4084 / year (2011). It is also valid on the Veolia Transport Fast Ferries Vlissingen-Breskens, the Fast Flying Ferry Amsterdam-IJmuiden, and the Waterbus routes Rotterdam-Dordrecht, Dordrecht-Zwijndrecht, Dordrecht-Papendrecht, and Dordrecht-Sliedrecht. It is not valid on most other ferries, nor on the Thalys. On Fyra the regular supplement is required. The card is relatively expensive compared to the Off-Peak Free Pass (in Dutch: Dal Vrij abonnement) for € 1140 / year, allowing free journeys with NS only, starting in the off-peak hours. Free travel on bus, metro and tram alone is also relatively expensive, € 2449,50 / year.

For children under 4 no ticket is needed.

For children of 4 years and older, but younger than 12, and also for people of 65 and older, there is a discount of 34% in bus, tram and metro; in the case of use of an OV-chipkaart, the personal version is required. NS makes a distinction between children of 4-11 travelling with an adult (cheap Railrunner ticket), and those travelling alone or with each other (40% discount on the full fare, no additional discount when already benefiting the 40% off-peak discount).

See also rail fares in the Netherlands and NS fares and tickets.


Route planners

A country-wide public transport route planners for all modes is 9292.[5]

A similar route planner is of NS.[6] However, it does not show any maps, except of the railway stations of departure, transfer, and arrival and their surroundings.[7]

Apart from NS some more operators offer their own route planner, but these may not take other operators into account. Connexxion's route planner produces a map showing the points of departure, transfer and arrival, connected by straight lines.


Prorail provides a map railway map showing showing all stations, and showing at a point where lines A, B and C meet whether A splits into B and C, or B into A and C etc.[8] NS provides a schematic railway map with all railways for public transport, not showing at a point where lines A, B and C meet whether A splits into B and C, or B into A and C etc., so it does not show whether a train has to reverse direction when going from A to B etc.[9] There is also a dynamic version showing disruptions[10] and a version with indications of routes of train series, with their frequencies and stops.[11]

Common varieties of bus route maps include:

  • map showing bus network, with only a selection of stops[12]
  • map showing bus network, with all stops[13]
  • small map showing the route of a single bus line, with all stops[14]

The first two types also clearly show railways and all railway stations. Highways are shown, but characteristic of these maps is that they are shown unobtrusively. The maps are provided as pdf-file of up to 7MB. For some pdf-viewers on smartphones this may be rather large. In that case a workaround is to create submaps with PrintScreen. Since the regular pdf-viewer allows any choice of zoom level, any selection of the map, and the full-screen modus, this allows the creation of submaps with the maximum of information that fits on the screen.

Some operators only provide dynamic maps which cannot be directly downloaded. A workaround is downloading detail maps one by one (if necessary produced by PrintScreen), but, more than making submaps from a large pdf-file as mentioned above, this is a cumbersome procedure and results in a large collection of small detail maps without convenient navigation between them. (Even more cumbersome but with a better result is to paste groups of these small maps together.)[15]

The route planners do not provide in their results links to any of these route maps, these maps have to be looked up separately.


Public transport timetables are partly available.


The Spoorboekje is a collection of time tables in the form of pdf files, covering a year, but with intermediate renewal when needed (the physical timetable book has been abolished in December 2010). It covers all operators of rail transport in the Netherlands, except those of heritage railways; it gives the departure times (and sometimes arrival times), but not the tracks. For international trains to and from the Netherlands, for the data for the parts abroad only a summary is given.

It provides tables with services in columns, arranged by timetable number and direction (a and b). A train route can involve multiple timetable numbers; an equal train service number indicates that columns in two tables refer to the same train.

For train services which do not operate daily throughout the year there are footnotes explaining the whole set of days of the year on which it operates.

Bus, tram and metro

Pdf files with timetables (sometimes many small files, sometimes a few large ones) are available on the sites of several operators. The tables are arranged similarly to the Spoorboekje, except that for each line and direction there are three separate tables: for Monday-Friday, for Saturday, and for Sunday. Also, they show the times for selected stops only. Some operators only provide for reading the tables on the screen, not for downloading them.[16] A workaround is using PrintScreen, but this is cumbersome if one wants to download many pages. In at least one case [17] the pdf file is apparently prepared for being printed only, not for reading from the screen: the tables are rotated. Not only are some screens not easy to rotate, also the tables are often wider than high, like a screen, making rotation less desirable. Thus every time the file is loaded the rotate function has to be applied.

Also paper leaflets or small booklets with the timetable of a single line or a few lines are often available free of charge, and larger booklets are often for sale.


Most trains and some ferries have a toilet, while buses, trams and metros do not. See also toilets in trains in the Netherlands and hoofdrailnet.

See also

External links


  1. ^ Concessions; see also nl:Concessies in het Nederlandse openbaar vervoer#Overzicht concessies.
  2. ^ GVU
  3. ^ GVU
  4. ^ See for example Connexxion-Niteliner.
  5. ^ 9292 route planner in English; 9292 is the brand name of REISinformatiegroep bv, of which all public transport companies in The Netherlands are shareholders. For situations where one does not have internet access and for people who like to speak to a live advisor there is also the premium-rate telephone number 0900 9292 (€ 0,70 p/m); the information can be told, and additionally without extra charge be sent as text message.
  6. ^ NS route planner: basic version in English, extended version in Dutch
  7. ^ Not working at the time of writing.
  8. ^ ProRail railway map
  9. ^ NS railway map; it is produced by Carto Studio, see Carto Studio page about maps for NS
  10. ^ Dynamic railway map showing disruptions
  11. ^ Treinreiziger railway map
  12. ^ Mostly from Carto Studio (see e.g. Carto Studio page about maps for Connexxion), for example Connexxion map Duin- en Bollenstreek.
  13. ^ For example the common map of Rotterdam and surrounding region for RET and other operators (pdf) and Connexxion map Dordrecht, both of Carto Studio. The first uses colors based on properties, such as red lines for frequent bus services, regardless of the operator; the second uses the more common system of different colors for each line of the operator concerned, and grey for lines of other operators. Another example is the downloadable GVB map[1] by F.I.S. Cartografie; like in the first example, colors are based on properties, regardless of the operator, but here without distinction by frequency.
  14. ^ For example Small map of the route of Connexxion bus line 90, with all stops, obtained at after selecting a bus line, and clicking "Toon routekaart" (show route map). The underlying maps with unspecified producer are of a different style than the bus network maps.
  15. ^ Systems used:
    • Continuously selectable submaps using Adobe Flash Player: HTM map, by Carto Studio (see [2])
    • Discrete submaps: GVU map, by Mapminded[3]. The map is provided in the form of 9×9 detail maps, where each can be reached through the overview map and also from an adjacent detail map.
  16. ^ For example Example of Connexxion timetable booklet.
  17. ^ OV-gids Overijssel

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