Outlook for 2018

NS will continue to focus in 2018 on delivering the best possible performance on the main rail network (including HSL South), further improving the journey from door to door and developing world-class stations. We and our partners will continue to make efforts to keep the Netherlands accessible.


NS is on course for the midterm review in 2019. Over the coming year, the focus will be on performing as well as possible for our passengers on the main rail network. In addition, we are looking at the issues that are hot topics in the regions and at how NS can help improve mobility throughout the Netherlands.

Since the introduction of the 2018 timetable, NS has been running trains every ten minutes seven days a week between Amsterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven. For passengers, that means less waiting and more chance of a seat. There are around 130 more trains running in total on working days.

In 2017, the Intercity Improvement Programme was started in order to maintain high standards of performance in our HSL services (Eindhoven-The Hague and the Intercity direct) and to make sure that preparations for the introduction of new services on the HSL (Eurostar and Intercity Brussels) go smoothly. We are continuing that programme in 2018. Despite the continual focus on improving performance on the HSL, the introduction of the IC Brussels in 2018 will inevitably lead to a temporary dip in performance because of the increased congestion and complexity on the HSL South.

New trains

NS is investing substantially in new trains. Last year, we introduced new Sprinter trains of the FLIRT type in the Netherlands. From September 2018 and continuing into 2019, NS will be introducing Sprinter trains from CAF. This will mean an additional 20,000 additional seats. Both types of trains meet strict technical requirements, are energy-efficient and have wide doors. A retractable step makes getting on and off the train easier, while transparency and more light improve the feeling of safety in the train. NS has also ordered 79 new single-decker Intercity trains. The new trains are scheduled to come into use from the 2021 timetable onwards. These are trains with a total of 25,000 seats that can run on both the regular network and the HSL.


At the end of November 2017, NS opened an innovation studio. This is where we are working on becoming “the leading travel guide for public transport” and developing appropriate innovations for this purpose. Some examples are using your smartphone to find out where free seats are on the train, or seeing where the chief guard is on the train and asking them a question via the Journey Planner app. In 2018, we will go further in developing such new services for our passengers. In 2017, we introduced travelling on account, under the name NS Flex, for a small group of existing customers. They then pay for their train journeys afterwards. If this test is successful, a phased introduction will follow in 2018.


In 2017, NS started a company-wide programme to encourage a culture of openness, taking responsibility and exemplary conduct throughout the organisation. The aim is to have safeguards for an ethical corporate culture and continuous attention for conduct and integrity within NS. We will be continuing with this in 2018.

NS wants to be seen as an attractive employer where everyone can feel at home. We encourage the recruitment of women, employees from migrant communities and people with occupational disabilities. We aim to have created 200 ‘social responsibility’ jobs for people with occupational disabilities by 2020 in all business units as a whole.

Foreign operations

Abellio UK has prequalified to bid for the Southeastern franchise and the East Midlands franchise in 2018. At the end of December 2017, Abellio UK submitted a bid for operating the Wales and Borders franchise, together with Carillion and Aecom. However, as a result of Carillion filing for bankruptcy in January 2018, Abellio UK has decided to withdraw from this tendering process. In its existing franchises, Abellio UK is investing in additional seating capacity, faster journey times and a better journey experience, among other things. Abellio Germany will start operating the Rhein-Ruhr Express (RRX) and Dieselnetz Sachsen Anhalt (DISA) franchises in 2018. Abellio Germany will also focus on the preparations for the Stuttgarter Netz (STN), S-Bahn Rhein-Ruhr (SBRR) and Ruhr-Sieg-Netz (RSN2) franchises.


In part because of the main rail network franchise for 2015-2024, NS is currently investing heavily in trains, stations and systems and will continue to do so over the next few years. Based on the NS group plan and the initiatives it contains for improving results, NS expects that the available cash flows, the financing capacity and the availability of a residual value scheme for the rolling stock for the main rail network will be sufficient to let it carry out its investment programme of approximately €4 billion in the period through to 2022.

Long-term developments

Supply and demand

Over the next few decades, the Netherlands will be facing major economic, social and sustainability challenges. Urbanisation will increase, not just in the Randstad conurbation but also in other urban areas such as Eindhoven, Arnhem-Nijmegen and Groningen. The demand for mobility will therefore continue to grow, driven by greater population density and scarcity of land. The effect is intensified by the growth of hubs such as Schiphol, the port of Rotterdam and the IT hubs concentrated in Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Groningen. The Randstad conurbation is in danger of becoming clogged up due to the growing and concentrated demand for mobility, and problems are developing at various points in the mobility system in the form of increased congestion and delays when travelling by road, problems with emissions and space being taken up in densely populated areas, as well as full trains. Quieter areas have their own challenges as they face pressure on the collective supply of mobility solutions. Nevertheless, it is important for society to maintain good access precisely to these parts of the Netherlands and to offer the mobility that is so important for everybody. That requires innovative, smart and tailored solutions.

Types of transport

Furthermore, the mobility landscape is likely to change rapidly over the next few years. New forms of transport on the roads and railways (electric vehicles, self-driving cars, demand-driven transport) will need to fit in smoothly with the mobility system as a whole. Added to this are the rapid developments in IT, Big Data and renewable energy. What is more, younger generations in particular have a different attitude to mobility, with a shift from ownership to use. NS remains keen to help meet the challenge of creating good connections that match the demands of passengers, companies and institutions.

Implementation of the Long-Term Rail Agenda

In response to the increasing mobility, NS is working on the agreements in the Long-Term Rail Agenda heading towards 2028, together with its partners including ProRail and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Once aspect of this is the High-Frequency Rail Transport Programme. Running Intercity trains six times an hour on the most important routes will lead to a substantial increase in the transport capacity. We have taken a significant step in this direction with the increase in the frequency of the Amsterdam-Eindhoven Intercity trains as of the 2018 timetable. NS is doing all it can to further implement the Long-Term Rail Agenda in the next few years. NS and ProRail did a study together into potential further corridors where an increase in the frequency of Intercity trains per hour is desirable. The Schiphol-Utrecht-Nijmegen and Breda-Eindhoven corridors were shown to be the corridors that were most urgent.

Preparing for further growth with a vision on mobility

Even after the implementation of the Long-term Rail Agenda, the Netherlands will still face sizeable economic, social and sustainability challenges. NS is collaborating with a number of other parties on a shared long-term vision of mobility in the Netherlands. We are doing this in part in the vision of the future for public transport, which is coordinated by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and involves all players in the public transport sector: national and local authorities, ProRail, and carriers including NS. The parties offering mobility solutions also increasingly recognise the need to tackle the challenges together and in a comprehensive fashion. NS is one of the initiators of the Mobility Alliance, with organisations from the bicycle, car, truck, ferry, bus, tram, metro and rail transport sectors. Moreover, in the Randstad conurbation NS is collaborating closely with the three urban transport organisations in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague (NS, GVB, RET and HTM in Transport4randstad).
The connecting theme in these visions on mobility is that the Netherlands needs an integrated mobility system with a strong public transport system. Key elements in this are a faster and more convenient door-to-door journey and better international connections with the Netherlands. NS is working hard on this with its partners (other carriers, market players and national, regional and urban authorities). We are doing this for example by optimising connections between different modes of transport, improving transport to and from the station with the public transport bicycle (OV-fiets) and good bicycle storage facilities and working on further improvements to the journey planner and journey information. In 2018 we will be working on making our plans more concrete.

Development in market regulation of the Dutch railway market

Over the next few years, three developments will affect the setup for the Dutch railway market and consequently the position and role of NS: decisions by the Cabinet about market regulation in the Dutch railway network, the decision by the Cabinet to change the status of ProRail and EU decision-making concerning the Fourth Railway Package. NS is monitoring these developments closely. NS’s position here is that these developments must help meet the mobility challenges described above that the Netherlands will be facing over the next few decades; that is why our priorities are passengers, passengers and passengers.