Chance of getting a seat on the main rail network

Performance indicator

Realisation in 2018

Realisation in 2017

Minimum value for 2018

Target value for 2019

Seat availability on the main rail network





Top ten crowded trains





  • * This figure was adjusted by 0.1% following physical recounts of the seats in trains.

Passenger-kilometres grew by 2.4% in 2018, partly because of the upturn in the economy. That is why trains are getting increasingly crowded, especially in the traditionally busy autumn period. NS aims for passengers to be satisfied with their chances of getting a seat. We adjust the availability of the rolling stock and the number of available seats to suit their needs where possible. In 2018, 5,000 seats were added to our trains, in part due to new trains. With new rolling stock we can make trains longer and increase frequencies. However, it is unrealistic to expect everyone anywhere to have a seat in peak periods.
Increasing the chance of getting a seat at peak times remains a major challenge. There is pressure on the performance figures due to the increasing passenger numbers. We are also coming up against the limits of infrastructure capacity, and the limited availability of combining and handling capacity will eventually result in restrictions. Increased passenger numbers are leading to crowded platforms at some stations, for example. In the long term the solution is to increase the platform capacity; in the short term we are taking measures together with ProRail such as having staff on the platforms or LED screens for help with fast and spread-out boarding. We also introduced the Seat Searcher (ZitplaatsZoeker) in the NS app last year.

Seat availability at peak times on the main rail network

Seat availability at peak times on the main rail network was 95.1% in 2018. That is 0.1% higher than in 2017, despite growing passenger numbers. With the timetable for 2018, NS has more seats available on the Eindhoven-Venlo and Amersfoort-Rotterdam/The Hague routes. In 2018, NS and ProRail implemented the increase in frequency from four to six Intercity trains per hour between Eindhoven and Amsterdam. This frequency increase helps us provide more transport capacity during the busiest peak periods.
In addition to an increase in frequency, we informed passengers about the crowding per train so that they can consider taking quieter trains when planning their journey. We ran trials with extra discounts for passengers who avoid peak hours. The trial shows that price incentives are an effective measure to relieve the main peak. The draft Climate Agreement (21 December 2018) states that in 2019 NS will make a proposal together with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management for a pilot on controlling demand, including through price incentives. Other transport carriers and consumer organisations will be involved in this. We also looked for solutions with stakeholders for crowded trains at the busiest times during the rush hour. For instance, the HAN University of Applied Sciences in Arnhem and Nijmegen, Radboud University and the Nijmegen ROC college changed their lecture times in 2018. Finally, NS is working on being better at implementing the timetable according to plan and having more trains available in the right place at the right time.
Despite all the efforts, the expectation is that trains will still be crowded during peak times in the coming period.

Chance of finding a seat in the top 10 busiest trains

For the top 10 busiest trains, the score was 2.5% in 2018. This was 0.1% lower than in 2017. This percentage is the probability of a passenger being unable to get a seat on one of the preselected 10 busiest routes during the rush hour. Passenger growth and the lack of options for extending trains led to some connections scoring more poorly than in 2017.