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I've looked up a ticket for a connection from Brussels to Den Haag, with a five minute connection in Breda. This connection is suggested by the railway company, is that some kind of commitment that this connection is reachable?

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    You've got some valid answers already, with regard to the feasibility of the 5 minute changeover. But I think it's relevant to note it's not a commitment. If the first train is delayed, the other generally won't wait but leave on the scheduled time. – AVee Jul 10 at 18:17
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    One thing to note. Both Brussels and The Hague have multiple major stations. That makes quite a difference on answering this. On the other hand, once you reach either Breda or Rotterdam (preferred) there are many options to get to Den Haag. All assuming decent times so say 6am to 11pm on weekdays and a bit less flexible on weekends. – Paul Palmpje Jul 10 at 20:22
  • This is another case of this and this question. If you have a single journey, there's a commitment to get you to the destination. Otherwise there is not. – Dmitry Grigoryev Jul 12 at 7:54
  • "doable" is situational and person dependent. As pointed out by @Tor-Einar Jarnbjo, if one is without luggage and a sprint runner, even 1min would be enough. But if one has luggage or some health conditions or simply lazy, then not "doable". Deutsche Bahn provides option to adjust transfer time but it is hidden under advance search. Could be same with Netherlands trains. – Swanand Jul 12 at 8:34
  • @Swanand, that's why I'm asking if they try to make it reachable. Deutsche Bahn often have five minute connections where trains wait a reasonable amount of time if the other is late, and the booking portal will treat these differently than two trains that just happen to be passing through the same station with five minutes distance. – Simon Richter Jul 12 at 8:59
30

When you have a train ticket this is a commitment by the railways to get you to your destination. In your case your ticket is for Brussels to Den Haag so to Den haag the railways must get you.

But it doesn’t have to be with the trains you originally intended to use. The fact that you change in Breda tells me you have a ticket for the IC train. That ticket is valid for a whole day on all trains on the Brussel - Breda - Den Haag route. That means you can also take one of the direct trains. Or you can choose to transfer in Rotterdam in stead. Staying on the train till Rotterdam and changing there has some advantages. There are like 8 trains per hour from Rotterdam to Den Haag, so if you miss one you do not have to wait long for the next one...

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    I would cite that in EU there is a regulation that obligates the rail company to bring you at destination in case your first train delays till later than the departure of the last train of the day. – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jul 11 at 7:48
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    Is this how it works in the Netherlands? In Germany, they started to sell "Sparpreis" and "Super Sparpreis", which excludes the ticket from refunds and makes it only valid in the booked train (from the starting station, so no direct connection with these tickets). If you fail to get your train due to a late train, then they are oblidged to offer alternatives nevertheless though. Just wanted to make sure there is no such thing in the Netherlands, so this answer is valid for all kinds of tickets. – Lehue Jul 11 at 12:50
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    The only exception on that 'one ticket will be good for any train on the day' are the Thalys and Eurostar tickets. Those are for one train only (although they will get you to your destination if you miss a train due to a delay somewhere earlier in your journey.) – Willeke Jul 11 at 17:11
  • @Willeke "Earlier in your journey" I assume only applies if it's on the same ticket? – David Mulder Jul 12 at 12:50
  • @DavidMulder, usually they honor all sets of tickets, also bought separate, that would allow for normal or long transits, how short is accepted depends on location and transit difficulties. I do not think it gives you rights. – Willeke Jul 12 at 13:20
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Breda is already in the Netherlands and the most common method for this kind of tight connections is that one train comes in, stops on one side of a platform, then the other train comes in on the other side of the same platform, stays for a few minutes, so every body gets out and in, last in train leaves first, first train in leaves last.

So while the connection is about 5 minutes, it is not rushed, as you only have to cross the platform. If you give more details I can look up the details. (Or you can look them up yourself. On the Dutch railways planner, here in English.)
In the Netherlands, platforms are given for each train, as part of the normal train table information. Rarely the station has to announce changes but as a rule the trains leave from the platforms as announced.

Even when you have to change to one of the other platforms, 5 minutes is the norm rather than short. There are stairs on both ends of the platforms and only 3 (double sided, so 6 numbers) of them.

And as a rule these trains run every 30 minutes, often with an alternate connection in between for busy routes, you will not run much risk unless you have an ongoing connection to a different kind of transport that is running less often.

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    Not sure if it's still the case, but there used to be one of these connections at Leiden going to Schiphol where the trains were in the same platform but one in front of the other (e.g. 9a and 9b) and it was a mad rush with no guarantee of success if you sat at the wrong end of the train and had to walk the whole length of it. Another easier variation is when a second train couples into your train to continue the journey together. – Eric Jul 10 at 17:14
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    This is not the case for this connection in Breda. The train to Den Haag does not depart from the same platform as the arriving train from Brussels. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jul 10 at 17:23
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    In theory the cross-platform thing sounds nice, but it doesn't work as nicely when your train is delayed. Sadly the IC from Brussels isn't all that reliable. – JAD Jul 11 at 8:00
  • @Abigail Yes, so it sounds like nothing has changed. I have fond memories of running up the platform pulling a suitcase while being one of the first people off the sprinter and having the train to Schiphol close its doors and leave just before those from the sprinter reached the train. Everything works fine when things are fine, which is not often enough in my experience – Eric Jul 11 at 11:40
  • @JAD Tell me about it! I used to take that train home once a week from Rotterdam to Roosendaal. I think it was delayed more often than not. After a few weeks, I stopped counting on it and communicated my arrival home based on the hourly intercity instead. If I was early, it was nice. – Belle-Sophie Jul 11 at 12:33
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It is doable, but quite tight, especially if you have a lot of luggage.

The train from Brussels will usually arrive in Breda on track 5 and the train to Den Haag will depart from track 7, which is a different platform. You will either have to take the stairs or the elevator down to a connecting corridor and then up again to reach the correct platform. Especially if you prefer to use the elevator, it is not unlikely that you will queue up with other passengers and not have time to catch the next train.

1

I lost a train in Utrecht because of that tight time schedule of five minutes. That time my platform for the next train changed. Since I went to the platform printed in my ticket I arrived to the wrong platform, without enough time to realize that my platform was modified.
Hence, you can do it in five minutes, but do not forget to listen the audio messages, you might lose important information about last minute changes.

That time they gave me a new ticket without additional cost.

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    The train stations of Utrecht and Breda are not really comparable. 5 minutes to change sounds tight for Utrecht but not for Breda. – Calculon Jul 12 at 7:33

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