Campaigns and activities
In the Netherlands the partially sighted or blind traveller uses a full fare ticket while his or her guide or guide dog travels for free on the national rail network. Additional charges incur where a ‘reservation' fee or a ‘seated' ticket is required. Concessionary fares are often not fully endorsed by high-speed rail networks. Compulsory ‘reservation' fees can vary depending on the travelling period.
The regional concession scheme is closely modelled after the national system whereby the partially sighted or blind traveller uses a full fare ticket while his or her guide or guide dog travels for free.
The urban concession scheme is closely modelled after the national and regional systems whereby the partially sighted or blind traveller uses a full fare ticket while his or her guide or guide dog travels for free.
The Dutch Railways (NS) signed the IUR Agreement on Rail Transport for Blind People and their Guide issued in 1997 and amended in 2005. Visually impaired people residing in and travelling to any of the countries who signed this Agreement are entitled to a free ticket for their guide or guide dog provided that the return ticket is purchased in the country where the disability card was issued. In practice the Agreement does not apply to additional fees such as ‘reservation' or ‘couchette' which must be paid in full for both passengers. Furthermore, a survey conducted by EBU in 2000 revealed that in many countries the Agreement was not well known or was simply ignored by transport operators and authorities.
The signatories of the agreement are companies rather than States and many of the existing transnational routes are not covered by the Agreement. There are deplorably no provisions for the blind and partially sighted on the high-speed Thalys train (the Netherlands-France-Belgium-Germany) which only runs concessions for wheel chair users. The Thalys brochure states that specific concessions are made available to the visually impaired public but repeated tests conducted by EBU in 2008 revealed that the software used by booking agents did not contain a concession category for blind or partially sighted people and their guides.
The Netherlands has signed an agreement with the other Benelux countries (Belgium and Luxembourg) allowing visitors these countries to benefit from concessions schemes in the Netherlands upon presentation of their national disability or blindness card. In theory, foreign visitors from other countries are not entitled to these concessions which are locally-financed and limited to local residents. In practice, concessions are sometimes granted depending on the willingness of ticket vendors.