The basic trains operated by NS are identified as Intercity (IC) and Sprinter (SP). Intercity trains are more express in nature, making fewer stops.
NS has outsourced many of its local branch line services to various private operators.
The most notable international operations serving the Netherlands are Intercity Express (ICE) trains to Frankfurt Germany, and the Thalys trains to Brussels Belgium and Paris France. German ICE high speed trains operate in the Netherlands to Amsterdam, but within the Netherlands a high speed route has not yet been constructed.
Additional international services of an Intercity nature, connect Amsterdam with Brussels and Berlin. And additional services connect certain border stations with foreign countries, operated by the foreign railway. These foreign railways are NMBS in Belgium, and DB in Germany.
France was the first European country to develop true high speed services, with the TGV trains introduced in 1981. The high speed Thalys trains were introduced in 1996, with the first high speed segment in Belgium opening in 1997. In 2009, the high speed segments in the Netherlands opened for service.
The new high speed line in the Netherlands diverges from the older network south of Amsterdam, rejoining the older network for stops in Rotterdam and Breda before entering Belgium. The high speed segments use 25,000 volts AC, instead of the standard 1,500 volts DC. NS operates a domestic service over this route between Amsterdam and Breda, known as Intercity Direct (ICD).