Train etiquette on Dutch trains: 9 things you’ll always see

Ah, train journeys in the Netherlands: not the worst, yet not the best.

We all have our fair share of annoying passengers that we just love to have a dig at. The sort of passengers that maybe you might come into the office and moan about. Those lousy students leaving cans EVERYWHERE.

Well, DutchReview is about to give you the lowdown on passengers that most of us have experienced at least once (or 100 times). We could list 25 — but we’re only going to make you sit through 9 of them.

The truly sarcastic train etiquette article about Dutch train passengers. If you don’t understand sarcasm, then it’s probably not one for you. 😉

Coronavirus update: Before you run off to your next train ride, as of this date, please be advised that face masks are mandatory in public transport.

1. The half-maskers

C’mon, we’re all quarantine survivors here — virtual high-five. So let’s not pretend there’s someone out there that’s still unsure about what a face mask should (and shouldn’t) cover: that’s the mouth and nose, not the eyes or neck.
When in doubt, you can always check the mask emoji or the nearest safety poster on your train. 😷

With that being said, yes, you will 100% run into or sit across from passengers with rather an interesting life outlook on masks and the whole pandemic:

Maskers with their nose centred on display, people with absolutely zero regard for personal or breathing space, and people who just casually waltz in without a mask at all 💀 — fun times to be alive.

2. The bag hoggers

These are the people who treat their bag as an equal to a human being. Some even go so far that they’ll let you stand just so their bag could have that much-needed rest. 💤 Maybe these people believe that bags need to sit down too?

The truth is they simply don’t want you sitting next to them. Or anyone for that matter. Maybe life sitting next to a stranger is too much to risk, you could be infected, smell or heaven forbid you may talk to them. That’s simply not up for discussion here. Where the bag fits, it sits. 💺

Your comfort < their bag. Image: IgorTishenko/Depositphots

3. The nose pickers

Maybe they left their pin card at home and their day at the office was one plagued with starvation. What else can you do if you’re left to waste away? That’s when a nice stringy bogey comes to hand. 👃

You don’t want to recognise these people, but you just can’t help it. You’re so disgusted, that it’s impossible to look away. Frankly, they don’t seem to mind that people are noticing. After all, they are absolutely starving — that goes for saying that it should be a non-judgement zone. 😉

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4. The loud people in the silent carriage

These are the people who want you to hear their conversation about what they’re having for dinner, whether they’ve dumped Martin yet, or the story of telling their boss where to shove it. Really, we should all be rooting for these people “you go girl, you dump Martin and quit your job!” 👏

In reality, we aren’t drunk in a bar wanting to hear about a random stranger’s life. We’ve probably just finished a stressful day at work and want to read our books in peace.

Other people are desperate to watch a video on YouTube, but oops they’ve forgotten their earphones. 🎧 Never mind I’ll just play it out loud, they say to themselves. Next thing you know, you’re listening to DutchReview’s Crash Course on Dutch words, involuntarily. I mean, DutchReview videos are never a bad thing, of course, but in the SILENT section? Even we can feel for you there.  

Yep, we’ve all had them: loud cellphone storytellers in the silent carriage. Image: gpointstudio/Depositphotos

5. The people who take ‘the silent zone’ too literally

The silent zone can also be like a military operation. Some passengers take the ‘silent’ zone to the extreme. You could be putting a coat on or even crossing your legs over to get more comfortable, and this passenger darts their eyes at you in disgust. You made a slight noise there, whilst crossing your legs, and that’s just not acceptable in the silent zone.

To this passenger, if you can’t hear a pin drop, you’re disturbing them big time. Soon enough all your limbs will be strapped down and you’ll be unable to move, or even cough for the duration of the journey.

In this situation, there are two types of passengers — the direct passengers who don’t even worry about being out there, who will ‘shhhhh’ you, and wave their hands around. Then the other type who will be shooting glares and you, tutting and huffing, are not really sure what to do in this situation apart from stop breathing. 🔕

a-picture-of-person-on-a train-silent-cabinet
Then you have those who mistake the silent carriage for a silent movie. Image: Corepics/Depositphotos

6. People eating hot food on the train

I hate to say I have been this person many, many times. I will also add that these people are also the worst. I am the worst. These are the people who bring steaming hot food onto the train and it stinks. You will eyeball them for many reasons. 1. because you’re insanely jealous of that Julia’s pasta box and 2. because you don’t particularly want to see pasta sauce running all down their face. 🍝

If you’re starving, it’s almost tempting to flirt with them to get some, or in the worst-case scenario, you be that bogey person. Please don’t do either. Ever.

And don’t even get me started on the apple eaters (I know it’s not hot food guys). The sound of the apple cracking against the teeth is just too much for our little ears to handle. 🍏

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7. The starer

This is the person who has no shame in staring at you for the duration of the journey. If they are sitting in front of you, then they have a full view of you and whenever you look away, you’ll find them eyeballing you. I’m not just talking about people who may find you attractive and can’t resist looking at you — I mean the people who stare at people regardless.

If they’re next to you, then good luck with your privacy. And if you’re texting, they’ll be sure to crook their head and have a good look at who you’re texting. If you’re reading, then they totally want to know what kind of book it is (enough that you almost feel like you’re reading your book to your child), and if you’re having a conversation, they’ll be hanging on to your every word. Next time, stick your tongue out and see what they do. I dare you! 👀

8. The party passengers

These people are either on their way back from a party or most likely on their way there. 🎉 The pre-drinks are flowing, a girl is screaming her head off because her shoe’s fallen off, and she can’t find her pin card. Little Alex over there has spilt beer all down himself and all over the train floor, and someone is rushing to find the toilet.

You say to yourself no, no, no because you want a stress-free journey and you want to finish the last chapter of your book.

Once the group has dispersed (phew) all that remains is 10 crushed up beer cans, that clearly didn’t fit in the little bin, so they’re now crushed and all over the floor. You’ve spotted the girls ‘lost’ pin card down the side of the train seat, but right now you’ve already decided that it’s someone else’s job to hand it in, plus you’re too mad at her for screaming. A couple of empty baggies (which you hope were just from cannabis) and a jumper. What madness have Dutch trains become eh? 📢

The pre-party on a train crowd. Image: giulombardo.ct/Depositphots

9. People who are glued to their seat

These passengers ensure that to have the best journey possible, they would superglue themselves to their seats. This way, nobody and I mean nobody, can take their seat. This means that they have to make full use of the seat by keeping their legs far apart and their arms anywhere but their laps.

It doesn’t matter if someone sits next to them, they can’t move. A pregnant, disabled or elderly passenger led astray? It’s not their problem, they can’t move, remember?

They’re also the kind of passenger who can’t move out of the way if you’re at a four-person table seat, lodged in the corner. They won’t move up if you are looking for a seat, so you have to awkwardly climb over them (almost sitting on their lap), and squeeze yourself into the corner. How awkward.😣

We love a bit of sarcasm here at DutchReview, so there you have it — we said it so you don’t have to!

Anything else we missed out on? Let us know in the comments!

Feature image: Abuzer van Leeuwen/Supplied

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2018 and was fully updated in September 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.


  1. With the bags: it’s not that we don’t want anyone sitting there, it’s mainly that we don’t want to put the bags too far away for they might get stolen. And whenever anyone comes in and needs a seat I take my bag away and usually keep in on my lap or on the floor between my feet.

  2. The sniffers, and there are plenty of them , who constantly suck snot back up their noses. Why use a tissue or a handkerchief when you annoy the whole carriage by making loud sniffing noises every 15 seconds?

  3. The young person who just looks at the elderly person standing there as someone of interest.
    But will never offer up his/her seat! Same on buses, btw.


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