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Train travel in the Netherlands is more expensive than flying to Southern Europe

TRAVEL NEWS – 22 August 2023: Everyone knows that traveling by plane is bad for the environment. We need to travel more by train because that is more sustainable, are the sounds from The Hague and the EU… Yet the reality is not in line with the goals that are being set. Far from it. There are even weather new specific plans to make train travel in the Netherlands even more expensive. Bizarre percentages of up to 60% are mentioned, especially during rush hours. There seems to be no end to it, trains seem increasingly intended only for the elite in this country.

Why is it that traveling by train is still unaffordable in 2023 and 2024, while we can fly back and forth to southern Europe for the same money? And why do we keep raising rates to an extreme degree?

Return ticket Amsterdam unaffordable in 2024

It is very disappointing that a return ticket from Nijmegen to Amsterdam by train will cost just as much or more in 2023 than a return ticket to Spain, Croatia or Greece by plane… You pay almost 45 euros these days. From Maastricht it is even 61 euros. If the announced price increases actually take place in 2024, the same return ticket will cost 97,60 per person. Traveling to Amsterdam with a family of 4 will cost you roughly 400 euros.

By car it really is three to five times cheaper if you choose to park at a P+R in Amsterdam. When you travel with several people, this difference becomes even greater. With 4 people you can save 2023 euros in 150 in one fell swoop by just taking the car instead of the train. Even with today's extremely high fuel prices. In 2024, this difference may be as much as 300 euros.

Price return ticket train Nijmegen - Amsterdam
Price return ticket train Nijmegen – Amsterdam

As world travelers, we have often spent more on the train ticket to Schiphol than on the airline tickets to a destination in Europe…

And then I haven't even mentioned the prices of train tickets for destinations in Europe… Ridiculous prices are shown there. Return trip to Milan in Italy? 850 euros please. Return by train to Barcelona? That will be 740 euros please.

Price return Amsterdam - Barcelona by train
Price return Amsterdam – Barcelona by train

Not only does the train journey take roughly 11 hours longer than the plane journey, the huge price difference is especially striking. You fly in 2,5 hours for about 170 to 200 euros up and down to Barcelona with different airlines. Direct flights without transfer. And those are the prices in the short term… Those who look carefully at Skyscanner and if you book a little further in advance, you can even go up and down for less than 100 euros with low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet.

Flights Amsterdam - Barcelona | Return prices
Flights Amsterdam – Barcelona | Return prices

Also read: Skyscanner | How to save (a lot of) money on flights

Sustainability is not getting off the ground in Europe

If people are so eager to have us on the sustainable train, why will train tickets in 2023 still cost on average at least 5 times as much as airline tickets for the same destination? Then why are there even plans to increase this by 2024 to 40% by 60?

NS train at Nijmegen station
NS train at Nijmegen station

It simply doesn't match. We have an urgent climate problem and we have to change. At the same time, we actively prevent sustainability by making and keeping climate-responsible train journeys unaffordable. In 2023, the train ticket prices rose again by 5,5 percent, just like the year before. In 2024 there may be another 40 to 60%. Flying is still by far the fastest and, above all, the cheapest option for almost every destination in Europe.

Both in The Hague and in the EU, people have been talking about making travel within Europe more sustainable for decades. However, we are now 10 years further. Unfortunately, we have to conclude that the change is slow to get going.

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