Prignitzer Eisenbahn

Transport in the Netherlands

Rail transport

Railway tracks

The Netherlands has an extensive and much-used railway network, which connects virtually all cities and many towns with each other. (Large towns without a train station are well aware of this status, e.g. Katwijk and Amstelveen.) Trains are frequent, with one or two trains per hour on lesser lines, two to four trains per hour on most lines in the country and up to 8 or 10 trains an hour between the big cities. Trains are divided into two categories: stoptreinen (local trains, which call at all stations; these are called Sprinters on some lines) and intercities, which provide fast connections between the bigger cities. A intermediate category of sneltreinen (fast trains) is being phased out, starting in 2007, but is still used on some lines. The railways of the Netherlands are all standard gauge (1.435 m), and they sum up to a total of 2809 route-kilometers or 6505 track-kilometers. 2061 kilometers are electrified (2001) at 1500 volt DC (see ). Only 931 km is single track. The country counts 3,004 level crossings, of which 2,144 are protected.

ProRail takes care of maintenance and extensions of the national railway network infrastructure (but excluding metros and trams, for which see below), allocating rail capacity, and traffic control. The rail capacity supplied by ProRail is used by five public transport operators (see below) as well as cargo operators: Railion, ERS, ACTS, Rail4Chem. Aside from these, there are a few tiny operators, amongst whom for example Herik Rail, with seven carriages, where trains can be chartered for parties, meetings, etc.

Recent and new tracks

Under construction

Two stations are located at a bilevel crossing of railway lines: Amsterdam Sloterdijk and Duivendrecht.

Non-electrified lines

(with timetable number)

  • Groningen-Delfzijl 84
  • Groningen-Roodeschool 83
  • Groningen-Nieuweschans Grens 85
  • Groningen-Leeuwarden 80
  • Leeuwarden-Harlingen 81
  • Leeuwarden-Stavoren 82
  • Zwolle-Kampen 63
  • Zwolle-Wierden 65
  • Almelo-Marienberg 72
  • Zutphen-Hengelo 73
  • Enschede-Glanerbrug Grens 522
  • Zutphen-Apeldoorn 67
  • Zutphen-Winterswijk 71
  • Arnhem-Winterswijk 70
  • Arnhem-Tiel 68
  • Nijmegen-Roermond 29
  • Landgraaf-Landgraaf Grens 525

Railways for public transport

Most trains have 1st and 2nd class; some local trains belonging to Syntus only have 2nd class.

See also:

International trains

See also Rail transport by country#Europe.

Night service

There is a night service, called Nachtnet (Night Network, although it is just a single U-shaped line) with an hourly service connecting Rotterdam Central , Delft, The Hague Central, Leiden Central , Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam Central, Utrecht Central (i.e., most of the large cities in the Randstad as well as the main airport). Due to the U-shape, the travelling time from the first four stations to Utrecht is longer than during the day. (Other little map, also showing the railway line itself) From Friday to Sunday the nightservice is expanded to several other cities, maily in the Province of North Brabant. The trains from Rotterdam Centraal continue to Dordrecht, Breda and Tilburg. And the trains from Utrecht Centraal continue to 's-Hertogenbosch and Eindhoven.

Off-Peak Discount Pass

In Dutch: NS-voordeelurenkaart.

For trains in the Netherlands there is an Off-Peak Discount Pass for €55/year, giving a 40% discount. Its validity starts at 09:00 AM (until 4:00 AM the next morning) on weekdays, and all day at weekends and in July and August. In the case of a group of up to four people, all get the discount even if only one has a pass.

Rail passes not requiring an additional ticket come in two versions: for a fixed route, and for the whole network. Both are mainly used by commuters. No off-peak discount version of these passes is offered since there is insufficient demand; commuters usually cannot avoid the rush hour.

Public transport in general

Metros and trams usually run from around 06:00 until midnight. There are night buses in a number of cities, but only on Friday and Saturday night in the smaller ones. Sometimes these will only run during the first part of the night, or in one direction only; e.g. the Connexxion-Niteliner

A public transport pass for train (2nd class), bus, metro and tram costs 3677 euro/year (2008). It is also valid on the ferries Vlissingen-Breskens, Amsterdam-IJmuiden and Rotterdam-Dordrecht. It is not valid on most other ferries, nor on the Thalys. Night services by train are included, those by bus are not. Students can get an OV-card for free, either one valid on weekdays, or one valid in weekends.

The pass will not be valid on the HSL-Zuid.

Other public transport

All metros and trams and almost all buses share the . For buses exceptions are:

  • neighborhood buses (small 8-person vans driven by mostly elderly volunteers in lowly populated areas; operated by bus companies but with different tariff system)
  • night buses
  • some bus services that are mainly for pleasure, such as serving an amusement park or beaches, e.g.:


(all standard gauge (1.435 m))

Tram / light rail

All have standard gauge (1.435 m).

  • Amsterdam, Diemen, Amstelveen, operated by GVB
    • power 600 volt DC, length appr. 85 km
  • Rotterdam, Schiedam, Vlaardingen, Barendrecht operated by RET
    • lines: 2 Charlois - Lombardijen NS, 4 Molenlaan - CS - Marconiplein, 7 Willemsplein - CS - Woudestein, 8 Spangen - CS - Kleiweg, 20 Schiebroek - CS - Lombardijen, 21 Schiedam Woudhoek - CS - De Esch, 23 Vlaardingen Holy - CS - Beverwaard, 25 Schiebroek - CS - Carnisselande, total length appr. 100 km
  • The Hague, Rijswijk, Leidschendam-Voorburg, Delft, Nootdorp, Wateringen, Zoetermeer, operated by HTM
    • power 600 volt DC, length appr. 92 km (except RandstadRail)
  • 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
  • Houten, operated by NS (light rail tram-line, could be called "metro", though not underground, with its own right-of-way, without level crossings).
    • power 1500 volt DC (TW 6000-tram has been adapted with a so-called 'downchopper' to allow the use of this higher voltage), overhead wires
    • picture:

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.

The RijnGouweLijn connects Gouda and Alphen aan den Rijn, and will probably be expanded via Leiden to Katwijk.

There are plans to convert an existing railway line to light rail between Maastricht and Kerkrade, and between Dordrecht and Geldermalsen.


Both regional and city buses can be found throughout the country. Because of the extensive train system, the number of long-distance buses is limited to a few missing railway connections.

Arnhem has a trolleybus system.

Bus companies include Arriva, Connexxion, Hermes, Syntus and Veolia.

Cycle ways

The Netherlands have a very high amount of well-constructed bicycle lanes. Biking is a common way of transport, and there are big bicycle parkings near stations.

See Cycling in the Netherlands for further information.


total: 125,575 km
paved: 113,018 km (including 2,235 km of expressways)
unpaved: 12,557 km (1998 est.)

See List of highways in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has one of the most dense highway networks in the world. There are 135,470 km of public roads, of which 5,012 km are national roads, 7,899 km are provincial roads, and 122,559 km are local and other roads. The Netherlands has a motorway density of 57,5 kilometers per 1,000 km², the most dense motorway network in the European Union.


The first motorway dates back to 1936, when the current A12 was opened to traffic between Voorburg and Zoetermeer, near The Hague. Motorway construction accelerated in the 1960s and 1970's, but halted in the 1980s. Current motorway expansion mostly occurs outside the Randstad, and very little construction has taken place inside the Randstad since the 1980s. Since 1991, only 100 kilometers of motorway have been constructed in the entire country, of which only 26 km lie within the Randstad metropolitan area. The population has grown by 1.5 million since , creating significant pressure on the motorway network.

Status & technology

The Netherlands has one of the most advanced motorway networks in the world, with Variable Message Signs and electronic signalization across most of the country. A special feature of the motorways is the use of Porous Asphalt Concrete, which allows water to be drained efficiently, and even in heavy rain, no water will splash up, in contrast with concrete or other pavement types. The Netherlands is the only country which uses PAC this extensive, and the goal is to cover 100% of the motorways with PAC. Porous Asphalt Concrete has some downsides, including the initial construction costs, PAC is two to three times more expensive than regular pavement, and needs constant maintenance, especially with heavy traffic. Sometimes, the pavement has to be repaved within 7 years, especially on routes with heavy truck traffic causing widespread track formation.

In 1979, the first traffic control center opened in Delft, where the A13 can be controlled with dynamic road signalization. These electronic signs can show a lower advise speed limit, as low as 50 km/h, to warn drivers for upcoming traffic jams and accidents. These electronic signs usually contain flashers to attract attention from drivers. The expansion of this system halted in the 1980s, but accelerated in the 1990s. As of 2004, 980 kilometers of motorways are suited with electronic traffic signalization. Besides this system, another system of Variable Message Signs (VMS) have been implemented, informing motorists about the driving times or traffic jam length to a certain point. It can also shows the length of various traffic jams near large interchanges, so drivers can choose an alternative route. As of 2004, there were 102 VMS signs in the Netherlands.

Another more common feature of Dutch motorways are peak, rushhour or plus lanes. These constructions allow motorists do use the hard shoulder in case of congestion, to improve the traffic flow. Numerous motorways have peak lanes, and plus lanes are extra lanes in the median, which can be opened to traffic in case of congestion. All these extra lanes are observed by CCTV cameras from a traffic control center. They improved traffic flow, but in case of accidents or breakdowns, there are fewer places to safely park your vehicle, leading to more congestion. It has been suggested that these peak lanes should eventually be replaced by a regular widening.


Traffic jams are common in the Netherlands. Unlike many other busy roads in other countries, Dutch motorways usually feature only 2x2 lanes. The exit density is also high, exits are usually no more than 3000 meters or 2 miles apart, also in rural area's. The number of traffic using the motorway for local trips is high, due to the fact that the non-motorway roads are largely underdeveloped, especially in the Randstad. Another growing issue is the number of trucks on the motorway, sometimes occupying the entire right lane on some motorways. Another problem is the limited number of rivercrossings, usually only motorways. Nearly all major river crossings are jammed during rushhours. A usual rushhour accumulates between 200 and 300 kilometers of traffic jam, but can be as high as 100 traffic jams totalling 500 kilometers. Some daily traffic jams exceed 20 kilometers in length. Outside of rushhours, the situation is usually free-flowing, but can still be very busy. Morning rushhour usually lasts from 6 am until 10 am, and evening rushhour from 3.30 pm to 7 pm, except for Fridays, where there is little morning rushhour, but the evening rushhour starts already around noon.


5046 km, of which 47% is usable by craft of 1000 metric ton capacity or larger, see List of waterways and


crude oil 418 km; petroleum products 965 km; natural gas 10,230 km

Ports and harbors

Amsterdam, Delfzijl, Den Helder, Dordrecht, Eemshaven, Groningen, Haarlem, IJmuiden, Maastricht, Rotterdam, Terneuzen, Utrecht, Vlissingen

Merchant marine

total: 563 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,035,899 GRT/
ships by type: bulk 3, cargo 343, chemical tanker 41, combination bulk 2, container 56, liquified gas 20, livestock carrier 1, multi-functional large load carrier 8, passenger 8, petroleum tanker 25, refrigerated cargo 32, roll-on/roll-off 16, short-sea passenger 3, specialized tanker 5 (1999 est.)
note: many Dutch-owned ships are also operating under the registry of Netherlands Antilles (1998 est.)


Schiphol, the Amsterdam airport, is the main airport in the Netherlands, and the fourth largest in Europe. There are also a number of regional airports, the most popular being Eindhoven Airport, Maastricht Aachen Airport, Rotterdam Airport and Groningen Airport Eelde. See List of airports in the Netherlands


Transport in the Netherlands falls under the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.

See also


External links

Railway maps:

  • (with intercity routes colored)
  • Map with distances
  • (with table numbers used in the paper version of the timetable)
  • - (whole Benelux, indicating single or multiple track and electrification)
  • Schematic maps of all tracks, switches and platforms:
  • - maps showing development of the railway network since the first track in 1839; see also
  • For railway stations and surroundings, see also Railway stations in the Netherlands#Maps.

Line maps for other public transport:

The maps by Carto Studio's, though meant only as examples, may also be of some use.

Oddly and unfortunately, for some parts of the Netherlands bus line maps do not seem to be available on the web. However, they are often posted at bus stops and can sometimes also be obtained on paper in bus information offices (sometimes in a less detailed version, e.g. without bus stops being marked).

Maps showing all streets and also public transport

General map showing railways and stations well (i.e. also in smaller scales), but, oddly, without station names:

  • NS rail travel planner - contains a detailed map of the whole country; to view a location, specify it as destination and choose an arbitrary point of departure, then ask for the route map of the post transport from the station. If you specify "Public transport" as means of pre or post transport, you will be redirected to with the corresponding map.

General maps showing railways well, but stations only in larger scales,

General map showing railways well, but stations only when highly zoomed in, and no station names:

  • Yellow pages / Telephone directory - A map (plattegrond) is provided after searching for a company or person; if one just wants to use the map, do an arbitrary search like , select Plattegrond and by zooming out and selecting an area to zoom in go to any part of the map.

Of these three, only the NS map shows metro lines, without stations, and none show tram or bus lines. shows only the single bus stop concerned on the map, not the line or the other stops.

For general maps see also Geography of the Netherlands. There are hardly any maps on Internet that show virtually all streets as well as tram or bus lines (the maps of Dordrecht and Werkendam mentioned above seem to be the only ones, with on the latter not all lines). However, such maps are available on paper for many cities.

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