Train tickets are not only more expensive in the Netherlands than in neighbouring countries like Belgium and Germany, but cross border train tickets are also often more costly here too, RTL Nieuws reported on Wednesday.
For example, a return ticket from the Belgian border village of Essen to Antwerp costs €6.60 return, but if you get on the same train in Roosendaal, just eight kilometres away in the Netherlands, the cost is €16.40 return.
The car park at Essen station is two-thirds full of cars with Dutch licence plates, taking advantage of the cheaper fares in Belgium, RTL said.
International train journeys can also be cheaper if you book using a different railway company. An Amsterdam to Budapest trip booked via the NS will cost €109.90. But the same journey on the same train booked via Hungarian rail firm MAV-Start is just €66, RTL said.
The difference in prices is a real problem, Eva Taylor Parkins, from rail user lobby group Rover, told RTL. “Ideally, the passenger should pay the same price, where ever they book.”
In particular, booking international trains can be problematic, she said. “You often have to book different elements of the journey separately,” she pointed out. “Passengers have to try and find out for themselves where to book and it is very hard to determine if you have a good deal or not.”
The NS, which is 100% state-owned, pays the Dutch government €80 million a year for its concession to run rail services which, according to research by NOS earlier this year, accounts for 14% of the cost of a ticket.
Labour accounts for 41%, investment and maintenance 43% and value added tax 9%. The NS does not receive any government subsidies.
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