is it possible to purchase train tickets in the Netherlands with a U.S. debit card? Will a debit card work in the automated machines? Will it be accepted at the manned ticket counter? I do not have a chip and pin credit card.
Dutch rail only accepts cards with chips at their machines and at the counters. So you will have to use cash.
Manned ticket counter: yes. But I would always have enough cash (Euros) on me just in case.
Dutch Railway ticket machines are weird, they only accept Dutch cards, not even those from other European countries. And many smaller stations are unmanned (or the manned counter is only open certain hours), so you need cash.
The one exception is Schiphol airport station, the machines there accept foreign cards.
In addition to Dutch Rail, many stores in the Netherlands also only accept cards with chip and pin (they've taped over the swipe slot). Hotels will still take swipe cards (at least they did in April 2012). But for everything else, be prepared to pay cash, and be pleasantly surprised when and if your card (credit or debit) is accepted.
Manned ticket counter: yes.
Not so. Only chip and pin at the counters. Dutch Rail hasn't accepted magnetic strips in over ten years.
they only accept Dutch cards
Last year Dutch Rail redid the machines and they now accept chip & pin from any country...at all stations.