Paying for a trip on the Dutch railway:
Most users of the Dutch railway system (NS) pay for their fare using a chip card which they scan
at the point of departure and again at their destination. The cost of the trip is determined
by calculating the shortest route between the two stations, so you pay the same price even if you take a slightly
Another option for Dutch commuters is to buy a "trajectabonnement": a rail pass that lets the user travel for
free on a "traject" or fixed route between two stations. At the moment, travellers who hold a
trajectabonnement can't use the chip in their pass and don't check in and out when they travel on their traject.
But what if you want to travel somewhere outside your traject? Trajectabonnement holders
are still obliged to buy a paper ticket if they want to travel to a station outside of their traject.
Travelling more cheaply to stations outside of your traject:
Suppose that you have a trajectabonnement for Leiden - Schiphol - Amsterdam Lelylaan and wish to travel from Leiden to Amersfoort.
Instead of buying a ticket from Leiden to Amersfoort (euro 11.80) you only need buy a ticket from Schiphol to Amersfoort
An even better option is to buy a ticket from Amsterdam Lelylaan to Amersfoort (euro 9.00). The NS has no way to know that
you boarded a train in Leiden and changed trains at Schiphol - without ever passing through station Amsterdam Lelylaan!
Why do trajectabonnement holders still need to buy paper tickets?
Here's the problem: for many origins and destinations, there are several routes that all take nearly the
same amount of time. For example, travelling from Leiden to Amersfoort is possible via Utrecht (trip duration 1:12),
Den Haag (1:14) and Schiphol-Duivendrecht (1:04). Even though travelling to Amersfoort via Den Haag takes longer
and covers a greater distance than going via Schiphol and Duivendrecht, both tickets still cost the same amount of money.
However, if you have a trajectabonnement for Leiden-Schiphol, it is now cheaper for you to travel over
Schiphol than over Den Haag or Utrecht. Unfortunately, all the NS knows is that you got in the train in Leiden
and out of the train in Amersfoort! Should they bill you for the discounted trip over Schiphol or for a more
expensive one over Utrecht? .....