Our strategy

The current strategy entitled Spoorslags Beter (Improving the fast track) gives our choices for 2016-2019 and states that our key goal is to improve performance for our passengers. We do that by focusing on our core activities, improving performance on the main rail network, letting public values guide our actions, and working in a more result-oriented way.

Over recent years, our performance on the main rail network has improved and we are meeting all the performance indicator targets. Passengers are arriving on time more often and they have a better chance of finding a seat at peak times. More trains are also running, including Intercity trains every ten minutes between Amsterdam and Eindhoven, the Intercity Brussels on the HSL South and the Eurostar to London. The good results translate into higher customer satisfaction.
To achieve all this, as part of Spoorslags Beter, we have invested in new trains and upgrading trains, for instance, and better journey information, more attention to the operational processes, new methods of payment and further improvements to stations. Growing mobility means that it is still important that we facilitate this. Over the coming years, we will need to improve the financial result so that we can realise and finance our plans for the future.

Core activities

Our goal for 2019 is to perform as well as possible – with an eye on the midterm review – by making passengers, passengers and passengers our top priorities. We have explicit chosen three core activities:

  1. better performance on the main rail network, including HSL South and the associated national and international train services. This means better train journeys, greater reliability and cleaner trains, as well as investments in new and refurbished trains. We are also increasing the frequency of services on busy routes so that we can transport more passengers.

  2. World-class stations. Without stations, there would be no trains. The stations are an essential link in passengers’ door-to-door journeys and they have a major effect on our customer satisfaction figures. At stations, passengers expect easy connections to all transport modalities, time spent there to be safe and comfortable, a positive experience and an ambience they can identify with. We are working in close collaboration with ProRail and in consultation with local authorities to arrange that.

  3. A better door-to-door journey. NS is one of the elements in the passenger’s journey from door to door. That is why we also want to make a contribution to the first and last stages of the journey. We aim to improve the journey experience by introducing new payment methods and even better journey information – with the NS app as a ‘digital journey guide’ – whereby convenience takes priority. We align the train timetable as much as possible with bus, tram and metro services, offer supplementary transport services such as the public transport bicycle (OV-fiets) and Zonetaxi and ensure that stations are comfortable, multimodal transport hubs for passengers. We do this together with governmental authorities, other carriers, infrastructure operators and consumer organisations. This puts passengers in control of their own journeys.

By focusing on these three core activities, we have genuinely prioritised passengers and we will be giving further substance to our role in society of bolstering sustainable mobility in the Netherlands. In everything we do, one question takes top priority: will passengers benefit from this?


We will be expanding the foreign operations of our subsidiary Abellio in a targeted fashion, and with due consideration of the business risk, in a limited number of deregulated European markets, namely the United Kingdom and the German regions. This will let NS acquire experience in the European railway market. Abellio bids for franchises with a controlled risk profile.

Key objectives for 2019

To achieve our aims as defined in Spoorslags Beter, we are focusing on four key objectives for 2019:

  1. Customer satisfaction with the main rail network (including HSL South) of 80%

  2. Achieving all the main rail network targets

  3. Growth in passenger numbers in the Netherlands of 1.5% on top of the overall growth in mobility

  4. Effective organisation

Linking strategy and objectives

NS recalibrates the strategy every year in the business planning round and makes adjustments where necessary. For each theme, the business units develop action plans, aiming to achieve all the targets set, efficiently and effectively. We apply targets to the underlying KPIs, which we then publish for each business unit. This makes it clear to all employees how their work is contributing to the goals of NS. The progress in the action plans and the developments in the KPIs are a focal point of the business reviews held with all line directors each quarter. Additional actions are taken where necessary.
When starting new projects and programmes, the portfolio management department determines the extent to which the new activities are helping to achieve the objectives. This is done using models where possible, for example for customer satisfaction, or sometimes with expert panels. This creates a closed cycle of ‘plan-do-control-act’, and we always have a clear picture of where adjustments are needed and how different activities help to achieve our objectives.

Strategic themes

In order to realise the main objectives for 2019, NS is focusing on eight strategic themes. Activities, projects and programmes have been clustered within these themes and linked to quantifiable objectives.

  • An attractive physical offering: Our passengers will be offered a rail service that meets their requirements by giving them a seamless and robust door-to-door journey, in cooperation with various partners.

  • Optimising the customer experience: The journey experience of every passenger will be optimised to fit passengers’ key requirements (being in control, freedom and respect) by providing a valuable product plus personal and intuitive service.

  • Performance of HSL South: We will deliver a reliable HSL South service for our passengers by paying attention at all times to every step in the existing service and by introducing new, attractive and reliable services.

  • Perfect execution: Our performance for passengers improves when we carry out the appropriate tasks for our roles in line with the plans, with rapid decision-making, journey information during disruptions, continuous improvement in the execution, more seats and greater comfort thanks to the smooth introduction of new and upgraded rolling stock into the timetable.

  • Improvement in profitability and financing capacity: NS will remain financially independent by achieving sufficient profitability to keep the plans for the future financially feasible;

  • Organisational improvements: NS will develop into a results-oriented and inspirational organisation in which business is done in an open and safe working environment, respecting the generally accepted and specifically agreed norms and values;

  • World-class stations: All passengers will enjoy top-quality facilities at our stations, ensuring a pleasant experience and optimum use of their time.

  • Abellio: Abellio will provide sustained results and help NS to learn from its experience abroad and the preparations for any further deregulation of the market.

  • NS is transparent about its performance. Every month, it reports via www.ns.nl on the scores for the KPIs that have been set for the franchise, with detailed supporting evidence.