HSL service


The risk that the performance delivered in 2018 is not in line with the agreements due to crowded trains, the complexity of HSL South and/or an inability to implement measures. The agreement with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management about the performance on the HSL South covers both operational performance and the introduction of new products. If performance is not in accordance with the agreement, the HSL South will be put out to tender again and/or NS will be ‘threatened’ with this, which would damage the reputation of NS.


The agreements made between the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and NS about the performance on the HSL South are highly ambitious, taking into account the complexity and limitations of the infrastructure and NS’s rolling stock. In 2018, the Brussels Intercity and the Eurostar were introduced on the HSL South. Delays in the delivery of planned customs facilities in Amsterdam and Rotterdam meant that passengers have to change trains in Brussels when using the Eurostar. The relevant public authorities are key for starting the passport checks. <check> Performance on the HSL South improved in 2018 initially. As expected, there was a decline between April and October following the introduction of product additions and a planned update of the software for the TRAXX locomotives. The planned improvement as of October due to new software did not materialise, but the minimum values for 2018 were achieved nevertheless. As a consequence, the remaining bandwidth is not as wide as NS would like. Performance on the HSL South (the KPIs) is volatile, with fluctuations from month to month. The HSL South performance lags systematically behind that of the main rail network. An external analysis carried out by Railistics and Triple Bridge concluded that the HSL South corridor is becoming ever busier following the product additions in 2018, which is making it increasingly difficult to cope with disruptions. In 2018, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management made €60 million available for measures aimed at improving the HSL South infrastructure in the short and medium term. Furthermore, NS and ProRail drew up a long-term vision for the HSL corridor in 2018 and presented it to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. In this vision, NS and ProRail elaborated on a series of measures aimed at making lasting improvements to the performance of the HSL South and bringing performance up to a par with the main rail network. The complexity of the infrastructure and growth in passenger numbers combined with the current volatility of performance on the HSL South means it will be particularly challenging to achieve the KPI target for punctuality for passengers on HSL South (to 5 minutes) in 2019.


The expected dip in performance was kept under control thanks to NS and ProRail making every effort, including a test and validation programme and a controlled and phased introduction process. An essential software update failed to deliver improvements. Everything possible will be done to improve the software in 2019. Operational performance remains unstable, however. All the operational disciplines in NS are looking at this. In addition, the improvement programme and improvement teams are remaining active to monitor performance continuously, make sure that performance will be as good and stable as possible and to take any additional measures necessary and spur on improvements in the operations. The introduction of the New Generation Intercity trains will follow in the longer term.

Risk control trend

The Brussels Intercity and the Eurostar were introduced onto the HSL South on schedule. The structural issues will require patience and NS is accordingly giving the improvement of the HSL South performance its full attention.