According to the media the Dutch railways are getting rid of the paper-based ticket, relying fully on a chip based prepaid card called the ov chip card. I do have such a card. However, when arriving from abroad I can't iniate this journey on a ov-chip card.

I thought a paper-based ticket for international arrivals would suffice. Much to my surprise I noticed today that they were installing automatic doors, technically sealing the exits. You would need a chip card to operate the sliding doors.

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Today they weren't functioning yet, but I worry about future visits. How do I get out of the station with sliding doors sealing of the exits?

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    I think it's fair to assume that they will provide some sort of alternative gate/method involving a human agent. Jun 24, 2014 at 7:48
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    @PaulRichter I am a bit sceptical, when it comes to international travel the dutch railways aren't really accomodating, i.e. Charging ov chip cards initially was only possible with dutch bank cards?
    – user141
    Jun 24, 2014 at 8:22
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    Based on my experience from London subway I guess there would be a gate with attendant for passengers on wheelchair. I think the attendant would let you through if you explain the situation.
    – jnovacho
    Jun 24, 2014 at 10:59
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    @jnovacho that's the left most exit in the photo. It's extra wide for wheelchairs and people with bulky baggage. There are no attendants on Dutch platforms. It'll probably end up with the passenger having to ask other passengers for help to alert someone who can override the automatic doors, which might on many of the small unmanned stations mean having to wait for hours until someone drives out from another station.
    – jwenting
    Jun 24, 2014 at 11:17
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    Surely in that case you either tailgate another passenger, or just push really hard on the barriers - must barriers are set to open with an alarm on a certain pressure, typically triggered in huge crowds
    – Gagravarr
    Jun 24, 2014 at 12:05

3 Answers 3


These barriers have already been in place at some stations for some time. In the Netherlands, paper tickets (e.g. from the ticket machines) will be phased out between now and July 9. People who don't have an OV-chipkaart will then need to buy a disposable one and check in and out as well.

NS announced the whole system will gradually go live after that with a handful of stations in the summer and probably 22 further stations before the end of 2014 so we will see how it works in practice very soon. The final decision on when the barriers will be put into function at all barriered stations (currently 82 are planned to be equipped with barriers out of about 400 in total) is supposed to come later.

Regarding travellers with paper tickets from abroad, from the same webpage:

De internationale klanten kunnen voor het passeren van de poortjes gebruik maken van de barcode op hun vervoerbewijs. Aan die klanten die een vervoerbewijs hebben die (nog) niet voorzien is van een barcode zal een zogenaamde ‘key-card’ verstrekt worden. Dit is een ticket met een barcode, die dient als een sleutel voor de poortjes. Aan klanten van vervoerders die besloten vervoer aanbieden van en naar NS-stations met poortjes wordt een passende oplossing geboden. Dit kan zijn:

  • NS verstrekt aan de organisator (digitaal) key-cards waarmee hun reizigers zelf de poortjes kunnen passeren
  • Op het station is een medewerker van NS aanwezig die de klanten van de vervoerder begeleidt bij het passeren van de poortjes
  • De Servicecentrale van NS opent op afstand een of meerdere poortjes.

So the mains idea is to rely on barcode/QR-codes (at least one barrier per exit should be able to read them), have staff present or open barriers remotely. The page also mentions “key cards” you could get together with your ticket but it's not entirely clear to me who would give one to you.

At the moment, NS is still experimenting with this because it also creates a number of issues for people with special rail cards. They have extensive information about that (in Dutch) but there is a bit that should be of interest to all travellers:

Waarbij er voorlopig nog minimaal één poortje per uitgang open blijft.

This means that for the time being there will always be at least one open barrier per exit.

2015 update: The Dutch railways have introduced a reader for the self printed tickets and all international paper tickets should have a code to activate those readers as well.

Barriers with printed tickets readers

These are the readers for the printed tickets, which have a little window instead of the common touch field.

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    @Bernhard The phasing out I got from an email NS sent to people who have a Jaartraject card. The bit about the extra entrance I remember reading about it a long time ago (you do see something that looks like that in large stations) but I have not heard anything about it recently, which is why I phrased it quite tentatively.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 24, 2014 at 8:56
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    That's certainly how it works in the UK at barriered stations - at least one barrier (normally the wide one) will have a member of staff by it who can check problematic or non-standard tickets, then open the gate for you. If there's no member of staff available, they must (and normally do) leave at least one gate open
    – Gagravarr
    Jun 24, 2014 at 9:08
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    @jwenting I am not a big fan of the new system but I think your comments are a bit unfair. I am not aware of any plans to put barriers on small stations and in many larger stations (e.g. Rotterdam) the barriers are not on the platforms but at the entrance of the corridor leading to the platforms so potentially a couple of people could cover several platforms.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 24, 2014 at 11:56
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    In the UK, barriers can only be put at stations that are staffed, so the least busy stations do not have barriers, and some stations that are only staffed during the day open the barriers completely when the last staffer goes home (the last staffer might leave at 20:00, when there are trains until 23:00, for example). Jun 24, 2014 at 14:26
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    Yeah, there should be QR readers, but when I checked at Rotterdam last time I was there I didn't see one straight away... so yeah, it's gonna be messy for awhile. Jun 24, 2014 at 17:57

Some of the gates have the possibility to read QR-codes from printed e-tickets. I noticed international tickets sometimes have these as well. For now, indeed, there will be manned gates (as Relaxed mentions), but in the future I assume that the QR-code on an international ticket will open the gate for you. Maybe it does already now? (June 2014)

Too bad I should avoid "making statements based on on opinion", otherwise I would have happily added a couple paragraphs.

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    +1 I was just adding info about that, based on the NS website.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 24, 2014 at 12:04

If there is no exit available to you, you can alway use the 'i' (for information) station next to the gates (shown on the right in the picture). After hitting the blue button, you should get in touch with a person stationed somewhere else, who should be able to help you.

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