According to Rover, NS's policy does not fit at all with the social task of promoting international travel by train.

NS is hindering the growth of the international train with the plan to make the train to Belgium more expensive for many people. Rover writes this together with the other consumer organizations in a negative advice. “The train to Belgium should actually become cheaper sooner.”


NS fears large crowds in the Intercity to Brussels this summer and is therefore taking various measures, such as extending trains and preparing spare buses. However, the company seems to focus mainly on discouraging train use. NS does this by limiting the sale of cheaper tickets, the 'Early Birds', so that train passengers are mainly dependent on the high fare. Anyone who manages to get an Early Bird ticket must also book in advance which train he or she wants to travel with. Traveling back home earlier than planned after an afternoon of shopping is no longer an option for these travelers.

"Train travel is more popular than ever. Thanks to the growing need for sustainable travel, the number of trains on trains is also increasing. But the capacity is not growing at the same rate, which is why it is often busy on board during the peak of the summer. NS is taking this summer measures to distribute the available capacity as fairly as possible and to manage the crowds, both to Germany and to Belgium."

Earlier on NS and DB announced compulsory seat reservations on the ICE International. The reservation obligation means that all cross-border travelers must have a seat reservation from 17 June to 18 August 2023 in order to travel with the ICE International. This ensures that everyone, regardless of ticket type, has an equal chance of a comfortable journey

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to and from Belgium

The summer crowds in the IC Brussels also require a different approach this summer. NS and the Belgian NMBS intend to allow travelers who buy a cheap ticket at the Early Bird rate to choose a specific train. This is not a seat reservation, but means that travelers can only take the trains for which a ticket has been purchased. Until now they could take any train to and from Brussels. This measure makes train occupancy more predictable and ensures that travelers to and from Brussels remain sufficiently comfortable at all times.

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In the event of disruptions or cancellations, the traveler with an Early Bird ticket may of course continue the journey with the next train, the binding to a specific train will then lapse. NS also plans to plan the times at which the midweek (quieter and cheaper) and weekend (busier and more expensive) variant of Early Bird tickets must be purchased differently. The tickets themselves will not be more expensive. Nothing will change for the other ticket types for the IC Brussels.


Rover is surprised by NS's measures. Not long ago, travelers could still travel to Brussels with the Eurostar, but NS stopped this because there would be sufficient space in the Intercity to Brussels. Rover therefore wants NS to make the Eurostar accessible again for travel to Brussels as soon as possible and to scrap the plans for a mandatory train reservation for the IC Brussels. "You can cross the border by car in no time, a train ride from Rotterdam to Antwerp is no longer than a ride from Rotterdam to Tilburg, it is totally out of keeping with this time to make a reservation for that," says Rover director Freek Bunch.

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Rover does not want to know anything about limiting the number of Early Birds tickets. Freek Bos: “The intercity to Belgium is already far too expensive. NS should reduce the fare to the same fare as a domestic train journey. Traveling to Belgium is really not that special anymore.” According to Rover, NS's policy does not fit at all with the social task of promoting international travel by train. Rover therefore calls on NS to come to its senses and asks the State Secretary to take control.

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