Our materially relevant themes

NS bases its policy priorities on material relevance, weighing up the interests of our stakeholders and the actual impact that NS can have on the topic. At least once every two years, NS arranges centralised dialogues with all categories of stakeholders about our social role and the themes that they find important and that our organisation has an impact on: the materially relevant themes. We draw up a material relevance matrix based on that meeting and a biennial survey of our stakeholders. This shows which themes our key stakeholders currently deem most important, what priorities they assign to them and what impact NS has on these themes.

Material relevance matrix 2017

NS assessed the materially relevant themes for 2017 to check that they were up to date and valid when compared with 2016. The position of the themes was confirmed in additional checks: a biennial survey among stakeholders (held for the second time this year), continuous monitoring, media and Internet analysis and regular meetings with stakeholders. Furthermore, internal sector experts looked at developments within the public transport sector. The matrix for 2017 was then presented to the Executive Board and finalised.
Compared with last year, many materially relevant themes are closer together in terms of the importance that stakeholders attach to them. Service aspects (facilities at stations, passengers as the top priority and seamless door-to-door journeys) are now rated as slightly less important by stakeholders. The theme of collaboration (internally and externally) has been added as stakeholders indicated in the biennial survey that they had seen improvements in this area but still considered this theme to be important. The most materially relevant themes are numbers 1 through 11. Stakeholders attach less importance to personal safety (12), risk management (13), the financial position (14), the operations in Europe (15) and NS as an attractive and caring employer (16), but give similar scores for these themes as in previous years.

Sustainable development goals

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) function as the principal framework for the sustainability initiatives of Dutch companies and public authorities up to 2030. NS expects to be able to make a difference by 2030 in nine sub-goals within six SDGs.


  • Sustainable mobility for all: affordable, safe, accessible; reducing the environmental impact in cities (air)

  • Innovations aimed at modernising the mobility sector and making it more sustainable; severing the link between growth and environmental impact; fair and sustainable procurement policy

  • Climate change: more renewable, more energy-saving and reduced use of materials for our own products and services, influence on the policy and direction of third parties, adaptation and raising awareness

  • A decent employer: equality, diversity and inclusiveness, getting young people into work

NS is consulting with internal and external stakeholders to determine whether these should be the goals or whether more focus is needed. We took the first step before and during the centralised stakeholders’ dialogue: we asked whether this was the right choice of goals and what position NS should adopt with regard to the selected goals. Most of the stakeholders could identify with the goals and sub-goals selected. In 2018, NS will continue the dialogue on the strategy formulation and we will also set KPIs and targets. Previously set targets for 2020 concerning doing business in a climate-neutral and inclusive way, focused on the ‘circular economy’, plus accessibility will remain important in determining the direction NS takes in the next few years and will be used in steering the transport supply chain.