Train Ticket Machines, Amsterdam
You must buy a ticket before travelling - since 2005, you can no longer simply buy a ticket from the conductor, as in some other countries. If you buy a ticket on board, you will have to pay the normal price plus a €35 fine. If you have a valid reason (e.g. the ticket machines were defective), the fine might be refunded, but only by written application to the NS offices. The conductor is not allowed any discretion on this policy, which was widely criticised but still in place. If you do not have either enough cash, or a passport, you could be arrested. (The more you argue with the conductor, the more likely he/she will call the railway police).
There are tickets machines at Centraal Station but I opted to pay 50 cents extra and buy them form the ticket office. Smaller stations do not have ticket offices and you have to use the machines - I only tried once and the machine would not accept my English bank debit card - I also noted some Dutch people having a problem and in the end I paid a friend cash for her to buy me a ticket with her card that did work.
The ticket offices or machines do not accept Visa credit cards - unbelievable in 2009!
The trains only have 80% - 85% punctuality rates too which is poor for such a small country - they are also slow in comparrison to similar InterCity lines in England.
However still a frequent service everywhere and still the best way to travel in Holland.
Save yourself some money. The machines to sell tickets accept only coins (not notes) or card. If you go to the counter, you may be charged 50 cents for service. We got charged for a 6,70 ticket but the tickets above 7euro didnt have this surcharge of 50cents so it may only be a surcharge because ticket price was too small, or it could be because the stations that didnt charge extra only had ticket machines that took card and no cash ones. I dont know, but either way, is a lot easier and cheaper, and quicker (long long queues) to buy train ticket from the machine than a person. So, when leaving Schipol airport by train, make sure when you changed your money before entering Holland to have some coins with you. You can check up ticket prices and times before you leave at www.ns.nl which has an option for English.
In order to use the ticket machines / lockers you will need coins.
There are change machines dotted in the station this one was in the ticket office
It accepts Euro 5, 10, 20 & spits out coins of Euro 2, 1 & 50c
We were late for our train because we didn't realise this & discovered the machine in a last ditch attempt to queue at the office & pay an extra 50c
Firstly be advised that if you purchase a train ticket at the window you will pay 50c more & their are normally long queues.
1) Any big yellow ticket machine dotted around the station
2) Make sure you have change in coins
3) select destination
4) 2nd Class - make sure you do travel in 2nd Klas
5) Enkle reis (single trip)
6) today only or another date
7) no of tickets
The machine will give you change & spit out your ticket
Please note that you cannot use your own debit card in these machines as a "PIN" card is local to a Dutch bank account. You can use a Visa / Maestro credit card
We found trains here to be the best mode of transport to travel around the city, just ask the counter official abt the places u will visit as well a the final destination and then there are good options of cheaper tickets as well, like we had to travel both leiden and the hague on same day , so we took a ticket to amsterdam central via leiden and the hague. The train service is very fast,we didnt have to wait for more than 10 minutes any time.
The people from Dutch Railways thought of something new: they will charge you 50 eurocents extra, if you want to join the waiting line in order to finally get a ticket from the counter. This won't happen if you just take a ticket from the yellow card machines (use small money, if you don't have any - use the exchange machine near the counters).
If you have an allergy for machines, ask someone to help you with them. And if you think, ah, 50 cents for me is no big deal, do me a favor and send me the money... then, when I become a millionair, I'll put your name in my testament ;)