Dutch Quirk #26: Complain about the NS

It's a love/hate relationship 🚄

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #26: Complain about the NS

You can’t possibly be in the Netherlands and not hear, or personally sprinkle, some complaints about the NS. Brace yourselves for a bumpy ride as we take this topic for a spin.

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (more commonly known as the NS) is the railway system responsible for train transport within the Netherlands. It connects major Dutch cities as well as some other European destinations as well. 🚂

What is it?

Complaining about the NS is a Dutch standard.

From delays and disruption of service to last-minute changes in train schedules, sprinting like mad up and down the stairs to change platforms is pretty usual. 🏃

I still remember my first NS complaint: ’twas a Thursday in September when I, along with some other DutchReviewers, were stuck for over three hours far away from home due to a large-impact NS outage.

READ MORE | The ultimate guide to taking a train in the Netherlands: from OV cards to saving money

Reason: I can’t tell to this day, but it was 100% whine-worthy — you should see our WhatsApp group chat. 😫

Why do they do it?

Well, it’s not without reason or justification — but sometimes it is a bit uncalled for, seeing as the NS usually runs on time with good seating capacity. 😅

The Dutch complain about every NS detail possible: schedules, delays, the characters you encounter onboard, and the debate about first and second-class tickets.

Strangely, they don’t complain as much about the ticket prices, though, which is surprising since Dutchies are quite stingy. 🤔

READ MORE | Getting a cheap Dutch train ticket: 7 tips for the best deals

Let’s generally attribute this quirk to having plans. Everyone has them when they set foot out their front door. For plans to be disrupted in any way, shape, or form is a complain-worthy cause.

Why is it quirky?

We truly believe the Dutch are in a complicated love/hate relationship with the NS: publicly infatuated, but secretly they’ve been sleeping in separate beds for a while. 🤣

Proof? Check on a Dutch person right after their return from abroad. They probably missed the NS, since many of our neighbours (who shall not be named) can’t run a proper train. 🙄

Should you join in?

Have you been unexpectedly stranded somewhere, thanks to the NS? Welcome aboard the NS wail: it’s a collective hoot. 🚉

In the spirit of paying it forward, however, let’s not forget to spread some NS love sometimes. We really can’t always cycle everywhere in the Netherlands — no matter how hard we try. 🚴🏻‍♀️

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Farah Al Mazouni 🇸🇾 🇺🇸
Farah Al Mazouni 🇸🇾 🇺🇸
Farah believes she's been on many adventures during her millennial life, each for a different (sometimes invisible) purpose. The latest adventure whisked her away to Amsterdam for love, and what a magical surprise she found in this city. Armed with imaginary confetti in her pocket, and ready to celebrate all wins, big and small, Farah says "ahla w sahla" or “welcome” to her latest adventure in this wonderland.


  1. I have no real issues with delays, trains being canceled etc. My only issue is with the tidyness. Or the lack thereof. I have rarely seen trains so dirty like in NL. On the outside, the cars are like sprayed with a black thing, the windows were cleaned most likely before October 2023. Inside…stains on the floor, breadcrumbs on the chairs, all sorts of plastic/paper wraps thrown under the seats etc.
    Now, I understand that the trains here are heavy duty and no cleaning team can keep up the pace with the travellers that confuse a train with a trash bin, but I remember that before corona it was not this bad.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More Dutch quirks