This is some information about trains to and from Maastricht and the busses
within the city. Probably more than you ever wanted to know.
If you use an airport other than schiphol (Amsterdam), then see my earlier
message about "advance travel info". Schiphol has a big train station right
underneath the arrivals hall. From there, there's a train to the city of
Utrecht every 30 minutes at x.29 and x.59. This is a 33 minute ride. When you
arrive in Utrecht, change to the train to Maastricht, which should arrive at
the other side of the platform within minutes. This train ride takes 125
minutes, for a total travel time of 2.44 hours. Note that there is usually no
snack or beverage service in trains and the change in Utrecht is only five
minutes, so stock up before leaving schiphol. Or take a break somewhere along
the route, there's a train every 30 minutes. Eindhoven is a nice big station
halfway between Utrecht and Maastricht with at least two coffee places.
There is also a small second train station in Maastricht that is within walking
distance from the MECC venue. This one is called Maastricht Randwyck and you
need to change trains at the main Maastricht train station to get there. But
it's probably easier to get a bus or taxi.
If there are issues with the train to Utrecht, go through Rotterdam instead,
NOT Amsterdam. Note that for some trains to Rotterdam you need a special
ticket. In the main station hall there are boards that indicate when trains for
different directions leave and from which platform. Double check the indicators
above the platforms but don't pay too much attention to what it says on the
train itself. Note that at the schiphol train station the departure platform is
only decided minutes in advance, but it's between two sides of the same
platform so this is not a big deal.
There is no smoking in the trains and on the platforms only in proximity of the
The main train stations have KPN wifi hotspots:
They roam with Boingo, Trustive, WeRoam and iPass. A few trains have wifi now,
which should be free. I don't know how this works, there is no information
available. If a train has a screen that shows dynamic travel information it's
About train tickets: in theory, you can buy one online. In practice, you can't
and there is no point anyway as you don't save any money. You can get a regular
paper ticket from one of the many machines that are located in the arrivals
hall (beyond the first row of shops), or, if your baggage is taking its sweet
time, the machine in the corner of the baggage claim area. (These are 2 meter
high machines colored bright yellow and dark blue.) They do take credit cards,
but only ones that have a chip. They may or may not accept European debit cards
with or without a chip. Some of the machines accept coins, but not bank notes.
You can of course also buy tickets at the ticket counter located in the
arrivals hall (to the left of the ticket machines) but there unchipped credit
cards aren't accepted either. So first get cash from an ATM or one of the many
money changing outfits. (Also make sure you have AT LEAST 20 euros in cash on
you at all times to pay for small stuff. 50 is better.
) If you're going to travel back early, you'll want to buy a ticket for the
return trip at this point, ticket offices aren't always open very early or very
late. You can get a ticket for the day of your return trip or one without a
date. In the later case, you need to validate it by sticking it in a small
yellow box that should be on the platform somehwere.
Another option is to get an OV-chipkaart (OV = public transport, chipkaart =
chip card.) They cost 7.50 euros and function as an electronic purse. So you
need to charge the card with some money first, and then you can pay for your
trips by "checking in" when entering train or metro stations and "checking out"
when leaving stations. In trams and busses, you check in and out when entering
and leaving the vehicle. When paying with the OV-chipkaart the trip to
Maastricht is 22.15 euros, so you make back most of the 7.50 you paid for the
card. The card is valid for 3 - 5 years so you can use it on subsequent trips
as well, or give it to someone else.
If you're just going to use it for the train, it's probably not very useful to
get an OV-chipkaart. However, if you're going to visit Rotterdam or Amsterdam
and plan to use public transport there (which you should, driving is
frustrating and parking is expensive there) you need one as the OV-chipkaart is
the only form of payment for busses, trams and metros in those cities. (There
are also single trip tickets and day tickets.) You can add more credit to an
OV-chipkaart using the NS ticket machines or have this done at the ticket
counter, and there are machines scattered elsewhere that can also do this and
may even take chipless credit cards:
I was waiting to hear whether the OV-chipkaart will be available in the
Maastricht busses during IETF-78, but there's still conflicting information.
It's likely that you'll be using the bus at least a few times in Maastricht, as
the MECC a stiff walk away from the city center and most hotels. Maastricht is
a small city (~100k people), so there aren't enough taxis to transport everyone
at the same time. (This may even be challenging for the busses.) The busses of
course take paper tickets, but these are somewhat complex, so I would go for
the OV-chipkaart if possible. The paper ticket is the strippenkaart (strippen =
strips, kaart = card). The most common variety has 15 strips. For each trip,
you need to invalidate a number of strips that equals the number of zones you
are going to travel to plus one. So you need 2 - 4 zones per bus trip. Either
use the trip planner to find out in advance or make sure you can pronounce your
destination in a way that comes close to Dutch (so lo
ok it up, pronunciation of vowels is quite different between English and
Dutch) and tell the bus driver. You can either say the number of zones or the
number of strips, I recommend saying the number of zones because then if the
driver misunderstands it's easier to fix.
This is a map of the bus lines and the zones in Maastricht:
You can plan trips and see how many strips you need here:
If you zoom in far enough on Google Maps it shows bus stops, click on them to
see which bus lines stop there:
I don't think you can buy strippenkaarten (just say you need a bus ticket) at
trainstations anymore, but it doesn't hurt to ask. They have them at super
markets, tobacco shops, news stands and the like. You can also buy a small one
from the driver but this is of course much more expensive and you may need to
pay with (close to) correct change.
Finally: there are trains from both Dutch Railways (NS) and Veolia Transport
that run between Maastricht and Maastricht Randwyck (and many other
destinations in the region). With a paper ticket you can use either or combine
the two, but the OV-chipkaart is only valid on NS trains, if you want to use a
Veolia train, you need a paper ticket. Or simply wait 10 minutes for the NS
train. Or take the bus.
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