Learning at NS

We continually need to learn new approaches and new knowledge in order to be able to guarantee good operational and financial performance in the future. Changing and learning go hand in hand. NS is prioritising informal learning and learning on the job, with the aim of accelerating the application of new knowledge and skills. NS has invested over €35 million in training courses and other educational activities. 14,386 staff (excluding Retail) attended classic training days and 21,972 employees took e-learning modules via the NS Learning Centre (Leercentrum). Moreover, 175 training programmes were created or improved.

Focus on professional expertise

The professional skills of our drivers, chief guards, service employees, safety staff and mechanics remain at the heart of all our learning activities. A new training module was developed for drivers and chief guards to help them evacuate tunnels even more effectively. Furthermore, we purchased new train simulators to improve the performance of the Intercity direct. Around 200 work placements were made available by NS in 2017 for students on the vocational Rail Transport Driver training programme.

Rolling stock technology and maintenance

In 2017, the training for preventive maintenance of the FLIRT trains came to an end. Staff at the maintenance centres in Maastricht and Leidschendam and the service centres can carry out maintenance and checks. What is more, the train supplier CAF and the NS Learning Centre have jointly developed their first training courses for preventive maintenance.


TechniekFabriek (‘technology factory’), in which NS provides technological training in the form of an intensive vocational programme for current and future train mechanics, celebrated its fifth anniversary. In 2017, 96 trainees were taking a two-year apprenticeship in Mechatronics. In September, 33 trainees moved on to a job at NS. In addition, 253 current mechanics took part in a multi-year vocational training programme in 2017. The programmes are tailored to tie in with the mechanics’ work experience, which means they can complete the course relatively quickly. In 2017, 101 participants received a certificate, recognition of equivalence or exemption.


NS is running an intensive programme to raise awareness about integrity. One aspect of that is a package of tools, information and working methods. Teams can use this in a dialogue to work on their own integrity, thinking more about the choices they make, limiting risks and improving cooperation. Three new e-learning modules were developed to support this. The module for the NS Code of Conduct was revised.

Journey information

In 2017, over 100 journey information staff were trained for the new role of central journey information analyst, which merges the tasks of the journey information employee and the national journey information officer. They started working for the new Operational Journey Information Centre, which is improving the quality of journey information.


NS is committed to multiple forms of learning. When developing new training programmes, the emphasis is on informal learning and learning on the job. Examples are providing supporting professional information via mobile apps, e-learning or workplace assignments. We also make use of the in-house expertise of colleagues. Last year, our own NS employees with a talent for individual or team coaching, peer assistance or facilitation assisted in more than 170 coaching projects, helped 20 teams and worked with more than 80 teams on team development. There are various courses available for all employees via the NS learning portal, which gives them online access to a large assortment: a total of 2,251 training courses are available for staff.