An international’s guide to Dutch trains

About a month ago, a large group of new import-students arrived to this wonderful country. Now that you, the international student, are starting to find your groove in the city of Tilburg, you might be tempted to explore some of the other wonders that the Netherlands has to offer. The most obvious way to do this is by train. It’s quick, stressless and relatively easy, right? Wrong. Dutch public transport has many unwritten laws. Disobedience thereof will result in annoyed fellow travellers and a possible stern talking to by a middle-aged woman. To prevent this from happening, I present to you: the international’s guide to Dutch trains.

1. Complain

Compared to many other countries (including, possibly, your country of origin), Dutch trains actually function rather well. Sure, they are not always on time, but they generally do follow a certain schedule that is relatively trustworthy. If you’re from a country with shitty public transport, you may thus be tempted to express some positive feelings towards the Dutch train system. However, you should never do this. Rule number 1 of Dutch train: complain continuously about the miserable state of Dutch trains. Good categories of complaint are either the tardiness of the train, or the large amount of people inside them. If you find yourself in a train that is neither busy or late, vocalise how this surprises you, referring to previous times that your train was very late and/or busy.

2. Shut up

There is one scenario in which you are never to vocalize your complaints. Whenever you see the sign below, you have entered the land of complete silence. No speaking, no whispering, and preferably no breathing in these areas. Production of any sound will be followed by a death stare from an elderly woman, and sometimes even a stern talking to. Not because she’s angry, but because she’s disappointed in you. If you find someone breaking this law, be sure to sigh very noticeably and throw some hateful glances at them.


3. Exit first

If you are under the illusion that Dutch people are chill and laid-back, try entering a train before everyone has exited. Sure, we don’t get upset often, but if you disregard the “exit first” rule, we will come for you. Don’t be surprised by any screaming, shouting and use of physical violence. Once they catch you trying to prematurely sneak into the train, people will unite and dedicate their lives to destroying everything you love.

4. Don’t eat fries

Do not take this the wrong way, no one is judging you or your lifestyle choices. We understand that sometimes french fries are the closest thing to love that is readily available, and we respect that. But while you feast on your crunchy gold, the rest of the carriage has to endure the greasy smell of your deep-fried therapy. They get the growling stomach and the intense stank, without the joy of the actual fries. It’s like second hand smoking: they get the lung-cancer, without the rush of nicotine. Please don’t do this to your fellow travellers. Just let us go home in peace.

Now that you have all the tools to travel like a true Dutchman, go forth and pay excessive amounts of money for overpopulated and tardy travelling. Live the dream!

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