Dutch Language Blog

What You MUST Know About Dutch Train Stations (pt. 1) Posted by on Sep 10, 2018 in Culture, Dutch Vocabulary

We have written about Dutch trains before, about the experience of treinen (traveling by train) and we have given extensive vocabulary. However, we have never really discussed treinstations (train stations) and what peculiar things you can find there. I definitely recommend checking out the other two posts first, as they give some important information I will not explain again here. So – what awaits you at a Dutch treinstation?

I was at Utrecht Centraal (Utrecht Central Station) today, and it is a huge treinstation with more than 20 sporen (platforms). The recently renovated hub connects most places in the country due to its central location. You can basically reach any place in the Netherlands within about two hours from Utrecht Centraal when traveling by Intercity, the regular long-distance trains from the main Dutch train provider, Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS).

The station has many shops, from Albert Heijn in its small To-Go formula, a small Hema, bookstores, many different delis, coffee places, snackbars, and many more. There are also elements that make your travel easier.

Elektronische Infoborden

Infoborden at Utrecht Centraal (Image by author)

The elektronische infoborden (digital information panels) show you information of the next few connections, the spoor that they are on, and whether there are any changes. They only show the connections that fit on the borden, so especially at a busy station such as Utrecht Centraal, you may only see connections within the next 20 minutes. If you would like to see connections that are later, check the app or the vertrek- en aankomstborden (departure and arrival panels) (see below).

Informatie Lokaal Openbaar Vervoer

Image by author

Information about the lokale openbaar vervoer (local public transport) are also displayed. This is mostly buses and trams. Handy if you need to know when your bus goes and from which halte (bus stop).

Vertrek- en Aankomstborden

3 of many yellow sheets at Utrecht Centraal (Image by author)

These huge yellow paper sheets show you all connections going to and from the station that you are at. Quite handy if your connection is still a long time away or if the digital reisinformatie (travel information) fails. But normally, it is easier to stick with the infoborden or the app (see below).

They are not always yellow, by the way. They can also be blue/white, if it is from another vervoerder than NS. The yellow ones really give you all the info, though.

NS en 9292 App

Image by author

There are often werkzaamheden (works) or storingen (malfunctions) or other reasons why treinen (trains) are vertraagd (delayed) or even geannuleerd (cancelled). I will never forget this one time when I had to wait for more than an hour and a half because of a storing! At least we could get as many cups of coffee as we wanted, so that softened the blow a bit.

NS and other vervoerders (transport providers) will often warn you about such werkzaamheden and storingen, and the easiest way to know whether your trajectory is up-to-date and running is by checking in the NS app (this one) or on 9292 (they also have an app). To keep disruptions as little as a nuisance as possible, werkzaamheden are almost exclusively planned during weekends and at night.

Do you still need more information? There are also small Informatie booths, where you will always find assistance in larger stations. In smaller stations, you may simply be out of luck. Often, especially if you are foreign to the whole OV-chipkaart system, the conducteurs (conductors) that check your ticket hebben begrip (understand), and you can get help from them, instead of facing a boete (fine) for traveling without a geldig kaartje (valid ticket).

About these tickets… Check in next Monday or subscribe to our mailing list to get updates and new posts first!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Jeanne Kasten:

    One of the most important things to know about Dutch train stations is that you will have to pay to use the restroom! Make sure you have some coins! This can be a problem once you are out of Schiphol if you haven’t gotten change after arrival. Also, the coupon you get with your paid toilet gives you .50 off your snack on the platform if it’s over 2 Euros.

    • Sten:

      @Jeanne Kasten Great point! Thanks for that!

      Sometimes it’s easier to wait and go in the train. Though for that, I’d always recommend bringing hand sanitizer…