Our strategy

The Spoorslags Beter strategy for 2016-2019 is allowing NS to concentrate on its core activities with the aim of improving performance for passengers. NS is focusing on achieving the agreed franchise KPI targets for the main Dutch rail network in 2019 and its foreign activities in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Our mission, vision and ambition

Our mission is to make sure passengers feel a connection with NS. Our main ambition is to work with partners to let passengers control their door-to-door journeys. This is our contribution to affordable and sustainable mobility in the Netherlands.

Our goal for 2019 is to deliver optimum performance for the midterm review by making passengers, passengers and passengers our top priorities. In the coming years, we will continue to work on strengthening sustainable mobility in the Netherlands as part of our role in society. In everything we do, one question takes top priority: will passengers benefit from this? We aim to deliver a very good sustainable and robust train service and offer a seamless door-to-door journey experience. We will also give passengers the ability to be in control and enjoy freedom and respect. To make this possible, we are concentrating on three core activities in our Spoorslags Beter strategy:

  1. Better performance on the main rail network, including the HSL and the associated international train services
    This means better train journeys, greater reliability and cleaner trains, as well as investments in new trains. We are also increasing the frequency of services.

  2. World-class stations
    Without stations, there would be no trains. The stations are an essential link in passengers’ door-to-door journeys and they have a major effect on our customer satisfaction figures. At stations, passengers expect easy connections to all transport modalities, time spent there to be safe and comfortable, a positive experience and an ambience they can identify with. We are working in close collaboration with ProRail and in consultation with local authorities to arrange that.

  3. Contributing to a better door-to-door journey
    NS is one of the elements in the passenger’s journey from door to door.That is why we also want to make a contribution to the first and last stages of the journey. We aim to improve the journey experience by introducing new payment methods and even better journey information, whereby convenience takes priority. We align the timetable as much as possible with bus, tram and metro services, offer transport chain services such as the public transport bicycle (OV-fiets) and Zonetaxi and ensure that the stations can be comfortable, multimodal transport hubs for passengers. We do this together with governmental authorities, other carriers, infrastructure operators and consumer organisations. This puts passengers in control of their journey.

NS is investing more than €4 billion in the Netherlands over the period through to 2022 in these core activities, for example purchasing new trains, offering better journey information and better Wi-Fi, introducing new payment methods and making further improvements to stations.


We will be expanding the foreign operations of our subsidiary Abellio in a targeted fashion, and with due consideration of the entrepreneurial risk, in a limited number of deregulated European markets such as the United Kingdom and the German regions. This will let NS acquire experience in the European railway market. We are applying knowledge and experience acquired abroad to the benefit of passengers within the Netherlands to a greater extent than before. Abellio bids for franchises with a controlled risk profile.

Main objectives

To achieve its ambition, NS is focusing on five primary objectives for 2019.

  1. Customer satisfaction with the main rail network (including HSL South) of 80%

  2. Achieving all the main rail network targets

  3. Growth in passenger numbers in the Netherlands of 1.5% on top of the overall growth in mobility

  4. A return on equity of 5.5%

  5. Effective organisation

Strategic themes

In order to realise the main objectives for 2019, NS is focusing on eight strategic themes[1]. Activities, projects and programmes have been clustered within these themes and linked to quantifiable objectives.

  • An attractive physical offering: Our passengers will be offered a rail service that meets their requirements by giving them a seamless and robust door-to-door journey, in cooperation with our public transport partners and others.

  • Optimising the customer experience: The journey experience of every passenger will be optimised to fit passengers’ key requirements (being in control, freedom and respect) by providing a valuable product plus personal and intuitive service.

  • Performance of HSL South: We will deliver a reliable HSL South service for our passengers by paying attention at all times to every step in the existing service and by introducing new and reliable services.

  • Perfect execution: Our basic performance for passengers will improve continuously through fixed-role execution in accordance with plans, fast decision-making and responsive journey information during disruptions, and continuous improvements to the execution.

  • New and upgraded rolling stock: Our passengers will see more seating and experience more comfort due to the smooth introduction and effective deployment of new and upgraded rolling stock in the service.

  • Organisational improvement: NS is developing into a more dynamic organisation with more focus on the results, with effective leadership acting in accordance with the agreed standards and values.

  • World-class stations: All passengers will enjoy top-quality facilities at our stations, ensuring a pleasant experience and optimum use of their time.

  • Abellio – Earn, Learn, Prepare: Abellio is providing lasting results and helping NS to learn from its experience abroad and the preparations for any deregulation of the market.

  • 1 The Executive Board discusses the strategic themes every year. For 2018 the Executive Board added the theme Improvement in the result and financeability and has split the programmes and projects from the theme New and modernised rolling stock between An attractive physical offering and Perfect execution.

NS is transparent about its performance. Every month, it reports via www.ns.nl on the scores for the KPIs that have been set for the franchise, with detailed supporting evidence.

Linking strategy and objectives

NS recalibrates the strategic themes in the business planning round every year and makes adjustments where necessary. For each theme, the business units develop action plans in which the goal is to achieve all the targets set, efficiently and effectively. We apply targets to the underlying KPIs, which we then publish for each business unit. This makes it clear to all employees how their work is contributing to the goals of NS. The progress in the action plans and the developments in the KPIs are a focal point of the business reviews held with all line directors each quarter. Additional actions are taken where necessary.
When starting new projects and programmes, the portfolio management department determines the extent to which the new activities are helping to achieve the objectives. This is done using models where possible, for example for customer satisfaction, or sometimes with expert panels. This creates a closed cycle of ‘plan-do-control-act’, and we always have a clear picture of where adjustments are needed and how different activities contribute to achieving our objectives.