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The Deutschlandticket (German ticket valid on almost all local and regional transportation in Germany) is valid for travel to the Dutch border stations of Venlo, Enschede, or Arnhem (source). In The Netherlands, train stations have ticket gates where tickets need to be scanned to get out. How does this work for travel with the Deutschlandticket? I have a chip card from Frankfurt am Main (VGF/RMV) and I would be surprised if this were recognised by the Dutch ticket gates.

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    So in fact, only a minority of all Dutch railway stations have gates (but obviously all major ones do). The others simple have poles to check in and out but nothing physically preventing you from walking to the platform.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 19, 2023 at 22:36
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    At least at Nijmegen, the answer is that there are two sets of ticket gates - one for dutch trains, one for german.
    – lupe
    Sep 20, 2023 at 8:15

6 Answers 6

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Not directly related to the Deutschland-Ticket, but I found some likely relevant information in the information published by VRR (the transport authority in the neighbouring German region) regarding travel to the Netherlands. Not only the Deutschland-Ticket, but also other tickets issued by VRR are valid for travel to e.g. Arnhem, but may also lack a bar code required to get through the gates in Arnhem:

Reizigers vanuit Duitsland met een geldig ticket, maar die niet over een barcode of chipkaart beschikken voor het openen van de poorten in Arnhem, ontvangen tijdens de rit van de conducteur een zogeheten KeyCard. De KeyCard kan na het eerste gebruik nog achtmaal binnen drie maanden worden gebruikt.

Or translated:

Travelers from Germany with a valid ticket, which does not have a barcode or chip to open the gates in Arnhem, will receive a so called KeyCard from the conductor during the journey. After the first use, the KeyCard can be used eight times within the next three months.

So if you travel with a Deutschland-Ticket to Arnhem, the train conductor should provide you with the KeyCard required to leave the station.

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  • so you need to go see the conductor while you're still in the train?
    – njzk2
    Sep 23, 2023 at 21:37
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    I have recently taken several such trains and we were indeed given keycards shortly before reaching the respective stops in the netherlands. What happened was that a ticket inspector walked through the train and offered these keycards to any passenger. Oct 4, 2023 at 13:11
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According to the Dutch Wikipedia article on Arnhem Centraal:

Arnhem Centraal is een station met poortjes. Het station is een gemeenschappelijk poortjesgebied voor de verschillende vervoerders op het station; in de stationstunnel en bij de ingang Sonsbeekzijde zijn poortjes te vinden van NS en poortjes voor Arriva en Breng. Voor overstappende reizigers zijn op de perrons paaltjes te vinden, waar reizigers tussen de verschillende vervoerders kunnen omchecken. Sinds 2016 zijn de poortjes gesloten, reizigers met internationale vervoersbewijzen zonder QR-code kunnen zich wenden tot het in het station aanwezige servicepersoneel.

My translation:

Arnhem Centraal is a station with fare-control gates. The station is a common fare-control area for the various companies serving the station; there are gates for NS, Arriva, and Breng in the station tunnel and at the entrance on the Sonsbeek side. For transferring passengers there are poles on the platforms where passengers can switch between different companies. The gates have been in operation since 2016; travelers with international tickets having no QR code can seek assistance from the service personnel in the station.

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    Huh, interesting that it refers to QR codes. AFAIK, Aztec codes are much more common than QR codes in transportation, including on Dutch and German digital ticket. In the past, I've used German tickets with an Aztec code (without a QR code) without problems.
    – gerrit
    Sep 20, 2023 at 6:08
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    @gerrit I've never heard of Aztec codes and I suspect that majority of people also hasn't, and looking at it I would think it's a QR code. It could very well be an Aztec code but for simplicity's sake they call it QR code because people are familiar with that term and couldn't tell the difference
    – Ivo
    Sep 20, 2023 at 6:37
  • @Ivo They would find out if they ever try to use their phones' QR-code reader to read it and fail. And at least the DB ones look different from QC codes.
    – gerrit
    Sep 20, 2023 at 6:42
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    @gerrit - I never tried many barcode readers, I have one on my phone that I'm happy with but it reads Aztec just fine.
    – Gábor
    Sep 20, 2023 at 17:08
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    BARcode = a big BAR made of little BARs. QR code = a big sQuaRe made of little sQuaRes. That's a good enough definition for 99% of the public who cannot tell an EAN code from a Databar code, nor a QR code from a Data Matrix code from an Aztec code.
    – walen
    Sep 21, 2023 at 7:43
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It's been awhile since I have been in this part of the country but Venlo is not on the list of stations with closed gates so you can presumably ignore the whole thing and just walk right out. IIRC correctly, that's also the way things stand in, e.g., Hengelo.

Arnhem and Enschede on the other hand are on the list. This leaves a few options:

  • Check in on the platform with an OV-chipkaart and then use that card to check out. It needs to have credit available but you won't be charged. I am doing this all the time when alighting from the Thalys in Amsterdam. Not all stations in the Netherlands have check-in poles on the platform but both Arnhem and Enschede welcome trains from multiple operators so it should be possible in this case (the poles are there to facilitate transfers between different train operators).
  • Check in on the platform with a debit or credit card and then immediately check out with that same card. I haven't personally tried it but as suggested by Berend in the comments, you should be able to do this little check-in check-out dance with a credit card as well.
  • Get a barcode from someone (DB?). NS has a procedure to request a barcode if you have a railcard. It doesn't exactly cover your situation but it's possible DB is also able to generate similar barcodes. Note that barcodes (or QR or Aztec code) can only be read by gates with an optical reader. Most gates don't have one but each exit should have at least one gate you can use, see this answer for pictures.
  • NS also issues keycards to open the gates without a ticket but I don't think it applies here and unlike a barcode you could print at home or have your phone, a keycard needs to be shipped or picked up at a specific location, which doesn't seem very practical in your situation. As mentioned by Tor-Einar Jarnbjo in the comments, the train guard may however be able to provide one.
  • Call for help. Each row of gates, even small ones at unmanned stations, should have a way to call for help. If all else fail, you can call and ask them to open a gate remotely.
  • As suggested by @JeroenHoek, tail someone through the gate, possibly after asking them. The gates sometimes beep but are really not that quick to close down (certainly compared to the gates in transit systems like the Paris metro) and won't close as long as the sensors detect something inside the gate.
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  • Also before the Deutschlandticket, it was possible to travel to Arnhem and Enschede with tickets issued by the German transport authority VRR. Was it possible to use these tickets to get through the gates when leaving the station? Sep 20, 2023 at 6:47
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    Now that OVpay is live, I think you could even use your credit card, instead of an OV-chipkaart, right?
    – Berend
    Sep 20, 2023 at 11:38
  • @Berend Good point! I think it should work.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 21, 2023 at 7:21
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I have never seen one, they may have a barcode or QR-like code (not calling it a QR code to avoid gerrit's wrath)? That was always NS preferred solution and the reason there should be at least one gate with an optical reader per exit in a station.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 21, 2023 at 7:29
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    @Relaxed I found it now deeply hidden in the information published by VRR. If you travel from Germany to e.g. Arnhem with a ticket lacking a suitable bar code, the train conductor will give you a KeyCard allowing you to exit through the gates. It sounds as if that also applies for travellers with a Deutschlandticket. Sep 21, 2023 at 8:24
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Travelling with anything but the Dutch OV Chipkaart on the Dutch rail network on stations with automated gates has always been an afterthought (it comes across as if we Dutch actively hate tourists). Most printable international tickets have QR codes which work on those gates which have a scanner window rather than just a NFC scanner. Even the nighttrain to Vienna does this correctly, regardless of where you actually bought the ticket.

Of course that won't help you if you have a valid ticket, but no QR code.

All answers above are fine, but you in case you do not feel like wasting your time for an oversight by the people who decided that not having any manned gates on an international train station was reasonable, you might simply opt for the Dutch way:

Just tailgate someone exiting the station through a gate.

The gate will obnoxiously beep at you, but they do that all the time because:

  • People have strollers or wheelchairs (beep beep beep beep)
  • People have a digital ticket with a QR printed and ready, but for multiple passengers (ticket holder opens the gate once, all pass through single file, beep beep beep beep)
  • Slow children/elderly (beep beep beep beep)
  • People pass through them with a bicycle (beep beep beep beep)

No one will bat an eyelid, and if someone does approach you, just show your valid ticket and plead ignorance. You are not actually doing anything illegal as long as you don't jump over the gates and have a valid ticket, despite the NS claiming this is.

You don't have to do this of course, and many people would feel uncomfortable bending the rules like this; feel free to wander the station hall looking for staff available to help (good luck during rush hour). Just know that you can if it turns out to be the more convenient option.

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    I think international tickets (and other digital tickets) have Aztec codes, not QR codes. Try reading one with your favourite QR code reader and you will fail.
    – gerrit
    Sep 20, 2023 at 7:25
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    @gerrit That doesn't matter, since nearly anyone will refer to those as QR codes. And there would never be a need to scan those with your phone anyway. At least not if you are trying to open a gate.
    – Berend
    Sep 20, 2023 at 11:29
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    @gerrit Nobody cares, what is meant here is “two dimensional matrix barcode”. The difference between QR codes and Aztec codes is irrelevant to this entire Q&A and simply calling it a “QR-code” is probably the most effective way to explain what is meant. Anything else, you would need to add a parenthesis like “this thing that looks like a QR-code” to make sure people can understand the answer without having to look it up.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 21, 2023 at 7:27
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    @Relaxed Then call it a two-dimensional matrix barcode...
    – gerrit
    Sep 21, 2023 at 8:01
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    @gerrit I just explained why that doesn't work. You will note that I used the word “barcode” in my own answer from the get go but pretending that when people write “QR code” they mean to refer to that specific technical standard and contrast it with Aztec codes or any other type of two dimensional barcodes is actively misconstruing their intent and just plain dumb.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 21, 2023 at 8:36
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A few years ago I had the same problem when travelling with an Interrail Pass: I got stuck inside a Dutch railway station. After some wandering around I managed to find an NS employee who helped me go out and told me to go to the ticket office, show them my Interrail Pass and ask for a so-called KeyCard for opening the gates. I did so and got a credit-card-sized card that opened the gates at all stations.

Somebody posted a photo of one to a social media site, so you can take a look at it there. You may be able to request one here, but the description provided on this site does not match our use-case:

Passing through the gates without travelling

The KeyCard is intended for affiliated/other/international transporters, organisations, and companies that need a barcode with unique specifications for a shorter or longer period. The KeyCard can also be used for a specific inter-neighbourhood solution.

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    It was probably an Aztec code rather than a QR code.
    – gerrit
    Sep 20, 2023 at 6:12
  • Good point, @gerrit, although I just removed that part since I found out its official name, and now I just refer to it as a KeyCard.
    – Zoltan
    Sep 20, 2023 at 6:16
  • The KeyCard is interesting! Sadly, I'm too late for my upcoming travel, but I'll find a solution according to the other answers somehow.
    – gerrit
    Sep 20, 2023 at 6:22
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In Enschede, the issue is sidestepped by having the track for the trains to/from Germany outside of the faregated area.

-------4a-:----:-4b----------> Germany
# platform ##|############
-------3--: #|# station
-------2--: #|# building
# platform ##|#
-------1--: #|##

: denotes bumpers, | denotes the faregates. If you prefer a less crude picture, someone has posted a 360° picture to Google Maps: https://maps.app.goo.gl/reWCirsYFMmGGZUS7 It didn’t change since then, except that I don’t remember the big yellow standup sign about DB tickets from my visit a few weeks ago.

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