We continue to focus on operational performance on the track after achieving a significant improvement in our most important KPIs, including customer satisfaction and punctuality on the main rail network. It is therefore important to maintain the high quality of our performance and improve it where possible, for example on the HSL South and at ScotRail. Furthermore, we will continue to invest in improvements for passengers, such as new trains, upgrades to trains, renovations and improvements in and around stations, and further improving and speeding up the door-to-door journey for passengers, for example with OV-fiets and by giving passengers an overview of the entire journey. We have set up a major investment programme to achieve this and at the same time cope with the forecast growth in mobility and the number of passengers.
The fixed costs will rise further in the next few years due to the influx of new trains and the other investments that are needed to cope with the predicted growth in passenger numbers. The increase in costs will partly be offset by a forecast rise in sales. In addition, various measures will be implemented to improve results. There will need to be further improvements to profits over the next few years if NS is to remain able to finance all the foreseen investments independently. In addition to sustaining high levels of operational performance, we will intensify our focus on further process improvements and the smart use of data to support this as leverage for further improvements in the result, alongside management of the overhead and indirect costs. What is more, Brexit and the discussions with the UK Department of Transport about the CLE settlement mechanism for our Greater Anglia franchise are factors introducing uncertainty in our expected results for the United Kingdom. Healthy financial management therefore requires our full attention.
On Thursday, 31 January 2019 the RIVM presented the results of the hexavalent chromium investigation for the reintegration project tROM in Tilburg. Between 2004 and 2011 pensioners worked on, among other things, NS trains and museum trains for the Tilburg tROM project in the then workshop of NedTrain Tilburg. RIVM carried out an investigation, with which NS cooperated. An independent committee drew conclusions and formulated recommendations based on the research results. The committee drew some strong conclusions, including about the role of NS in the Tilburg project. According to the committee, the municipality of Tilburg, NS and the Dutch Railway Museum all cut corners. At the start of February 2019, the parties announced that they would be jointly making arrangements, each taking their share of the responsibility, with the aim of providing clarity to the people affected as soon as possible.
NS has made provisions for its share in the expected costs as at 31 December 2018.
Furthermore, the police are currently carrying out a criminal investigation on the instructions of the Public Prosecution Service, in which NedTrain is one of the suspects. It is not clear at present what the outcome is likely to be of this investigation.
IFRS 16: Leasing
As of 1 January 2019, all lease contracts must be accounted for in the balance sheet. The lease amounts are then replaced by depreciation costs and interest expenses. The application of the guideline is expected to expand the balance sheet by €1.8 billion from 2019 onwards. The operating profit for 2019 will be approximately €42 million higher and the pre-tax profit will be over €7 million lower due to increased interest expenses.