We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Train question

Austin, TX
Level Contributor
380 posts
23 reviews
Save Topic
Train question

I have read the guidelines on train travel and the chip card, and admit to being thoroughly confused. (My fault; I confuse easily!) We will be in the Netherlands for two weeks in May, traveling mostly outside Amsterdam (which we have already visited). Most of our travel will be by train. (Plus, we will do a lot of walking.) We had hoped to use the kortingskaart plus senior card, but it now seems that that will be impossible, as we do not have a Dutch bank account. We would prefer not to incur the extra expense of the Chipkaart, if possible. Am I correct in assuming that we can buy our train tickets without one? If so, will most of the machines take cash, or will we need to use the ticket office? (We will be staying in Haarlem, Alkmaar, and Enkhuizen.)

Thanks so much for your help!

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
61,999 posts
221 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Train question

Hi there,

Any larger station will have at least one machine accepting cash. Smaller stations (Enkhuizen in your case) might not have one. So it's probably best to buy the Enkhuizen-originating tickets, undated, already in one of the other towns.

With the average single ride for your journeys being around 10 euro, and the 'cash' being only coins which are 2 euro at most, prepare to bring a LOT of small change to do it this way.

If you have a credit card with PIN (chip) that could be an alternative again with undated singles, as Schiphol and Amsterdam have (a few) machines accepting that. Surcharge is 1 euro per transaction (which itself is upto 3 separate journeys for max. 4 persons), not that bad.

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Amsterdam, The...
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
Level Contributor
44,887 posts
80 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Train question

The only cheap way to do this is to carry lots of coins as Erik mentioned. Although you can use your debit card probably your card issuer will charge you for the transaction as well.

For conveniece I would just bite the bullet and get a chipkaart. Remember the money loaded on it can also be used on public transport throughout the country and that in some locations, apart from buying expensive one ride tickets from the driver, the OV card is the only method of payment

Fort Worth, Texas
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
Level Contributor
14,587 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Train question

dont you have to carry a €20 balance on a train chipkaart?

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
61,999 posts
221 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Train question

Yep, at check-in. So either plan that your last train journey is a relatively long one (the closer to 20 euro the cost the better), or make your final journey by bus/tram/metro as then the minimum balance is only 4 euro.

Recently however we had a report that someone checked-in at Amsterdam Centraal to airport with only 7 euro balance and had no problem at all; so not certain how strict the rule is. Can't test ourselves as we have personal chipcards, they top-up automatically once the minimum is reached...

Thanks,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Austin, TX
Level Contributor
380 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Train question

Thank you all so much. You have been a big help. The chipkaart may work for us, after all, as our last train journey in the Netherlands will be from Amsterdam to Frankfurt. Am I correct in assuming that we can load a chipkaart balance equal to the cost of that fare (to the German border), as long as it is at least E20? (We will have a German railpass for the rest of the journey.)

So many changes in the last year! Please be sure and post if there are more in the next few months.

Carol

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
61,999 posts
221 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Train question

Hi Carol,

Well the problem is that the chipcard requires check-in AND check-out. Which does not work well if the last 'station' is the border. You could use the chipcard until Arnhem, last station before the border, but then would have to leave the train for checking-out and need a paper ticket for Arnhem-Emmerich (first German station although ICE does not halt there) part. And you also need to purchase a supplement for the ICE train (no other trains on that route). A few euros only per person, from the ticket machine with coins just like Arnhem-Emmerich though I'm not certain tickets to Emmerich are available from the machine at all...

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Austin, TX
Level Contributor
380 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Train question

Hmmmmm -- no easy solution! We will just buy tickets from Amsterdam to Germany from a ticket office, I guess. We can pay them in cash (bills, not just coins), can't we? The surcharge for buying through them seems reasonable. Debit cards would also be possible for us; our bank does not charge, although I am sure there will be the usual 1% currency conversion or whatever. Unfortunately, we do not have a credit card with a chip. Things surely look like they were simpler a couple of years ago!

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
61,999 posts
221 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Train question

Yes, seems indeed safer. Hi-tech is fine but pushes people to use it (punishing those sticking to older paper models) and then 'people' is often defined as 'locals first'; 90% of the public transport innovations we've seen over the last 10 years here work a lot better for people with local debit cards and addresses than for tourists. In the end they'll probably get it right; now e.g. in Rotterdam there are day cards with discount for elderly just like the pre-PAYG 'red strippenkaart' option, hope that other places will follow...

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Edited: 9:33 am, February 21, 2011
Fort Worth, Texas
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
Level Contributor
14,587 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: Train question

erik..it still amazes me how much you know about this subject...

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
61,999 posts
221 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Train question

Tnx Steve. Nerds/geeks remain as much a mystery to 'normal' people as women do to many men and the other way round :-)

<Erik>