For NS, 2018 was a year with good results on the main rail network. We continued the course that was set in 2017. Passengers were more satisfied and operational performance on the Dutch main rail network was good. HSL South remained a challenge though, demanding attention because of the infrastructure and a software update. With these results for 2018, we are working towards the midterm review, when the government will assess our performance in 2019.
Our performance on the main rail network
Realisation in 2018
Realisation in 2017
Minimum value 2018
Target value for 2019
General customer satisfaction with the domestic main rail network
General customer satisfaction with HSL South services
Customer satisfaction with personal safety
Punctuality for passengers (to 5 minutes) on the main rail network
Punctuality for passengers (to 15 minutes) on the main rail network
Punctuality for passengers (to 5 minutes) on the HSL
Quality of connections to other carriers
Seat availability at peak times (main rail network)
Seat availability at peak times (HSL)
Top 10 busiest trains
Journey information during the train journey
Information on the train and at stations about delays
A small number of performance indicators were changed and one information indicator amended in 2018. Regarding punctuality, there was a technical change to the underlying measurement system. The number of stations was increased from 18 to 27 for the quality of connections. For journey information during the train journey, technical adjustments were made to the calculations and the reference point was changed.
The comparative figures for the chance of getting a seat on the main rail network and the HSL South have been corrected by 0.1% and 0.8% respectively as a result of physical recounts of the numbers of seats in the train.
The train journey improved from the perspective of passengers in some key respects in 2018, with more trains per day, more trains running on time and a slightly greater chance of getting a seat. That was reflected in the general customer satisfaction, which rose by 6% to 86%, a record. This was the first year in which we ran Intercity trains every 10 minutes between Eindhoven and Amsterdam. We also started the gradual introduction of 118 new Sprinter trains, adding a total of 20,000 seats. More new trains will be brought into operation in the timetable over the next few years, including the New Generation Intercity trains. At the end of December, we announced an order for another 88 Sprinters. HSL South also saw an improvement in customer satisfaction thanks to the measures taken in 2017, in particular for the IC direct service. HSL South’s performance deteriorated compared with 2017 as regards punctuality (82.5% as opposed to 83.5%) and seating availability (94.0% as opposed to 96.0%).
Performance in 2018
NS is continuing to acquire experience on the European railway market through Abellio and we are preparing for any further deregulation of the railways. Revenue grew once again in 2018 following the addition of West Midlands in the United Kingdom and the expansion of our stake in WestfalenBahn in Germany from 25% to 100% at the end of 2017. This trend is expected to continue in the next year when Dieselnetz Sachsen-Anhalt and Rhein Ruhr Express start operation. The performance of ScotRail and Greater Anglia was disappointing.
It is crucial for NS to remain financially sound in the future as well. NS has invested substantially in new trains and IT, among other things. These investments are much needed but the outlay needs to be recouped. However, NS only has limited options for growing its income. NS can look back on a healthy year in financial terms. Revenues were €5,926 million, which is an increase with respect to 2017 (€5,121 million). NS made investments totalling €898 million. The main rail network franchise KPIs for 2019 are also determining factors in the financial policy for the NS business plan: for example, we are continuing to invest in programmes that will help us achieve the KPIs, as well as in customer satisfaction, new rolling stock and IT systems.
Passengers travelled over 250 million kilometres more by train in 2018 compared to 2017, which means that our positive social impact on mobility and safe travel with respect to cars has improved once again. Our environmental impact also improved because our trains have been running entirely on wind power since 2017. Furthermore, measures were taken that reduced the negative impact of time spent travelling in packed trains. Studies into how passengers spend their time in the train and at the station showed that they are increasingly making good use of this time, reducing the negative impact of journey time.
NS in 2019
Over the coming year, the focus will be on performing as well as possible for our passengers on the main rail network. As regards the HSL South, it is incredibly important that everyone involved remains sharp and focused on delivering good performance. We are continuing to invest in new trains; the new CAF Sprinters are being brought into operation in phases starting with the new 2019 timetable.