Results for 2018

NS is working towards the midterm review in 2019, when the authorities will examine our performance. By making passengers our top priority we are making train services more robust, and we are offering a seamless door-to-door journey. We report openly and transparently about our performance.

Main rail network franchise 2015-2025

The State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management awarded the rail transport franchise to NS in December 2014. This franchise runs from 1 January 2015 for a term of ten years. This means that NS will be operating on the main rail network in the Netherlands until 2025, at any rate. Whereas the transport franchise focuses on the longer term, NS also draws up an annual transport plan for the coming year. In the transport plan, we have linked our aims and objectives to specific actions and performance indicators for the coming year, so that the goals will be achieved over the course of the franchise.
The definitions of the KPIs and the descriptions of the measurement methods used can be found here <link>.

Minimum and target values

Minimum value: Value for the yearly minimum level of performance required for a performance indicator.
Target value: Value for the level of performance required for a performance indicator in 2019 and 2024.

A midterm review will be held in 2019, as prescribed in the main rail network franchise. This evaluation will assess whether the way the franchise activities have been carried out by NS has resulted in the improvements required for the Long-Term Rail Agenda. The minimum and target values for the period 2020-2024 will also be determined during the midterm review.

Changed indicators

In 2018, the norm values for ‘5-minute punctuality for passengers on the main rail network’, ‘5-minute punctuality for passengers on HSL South’, ‘Quality of connections with other carriers’ and ‘Journey information in and for the train’ were changed while retaining the overall level of the ambition. This section describes these changes.

Technical changes in the punctuality measuring system

To control the daily train services, ProRail traffic control used to use an IT system called the Traffic Control System (Verkeersleidingsysteem, VKL). On 22 January 2018, ProRail switched to a new system, the Traffic Control Operational System (Verkeersleiding Operationeel Systeem, VOS). These systems also record the train arrival times. This information is used to calculate four performance indicators: ‘Quality of connections with other carriers’ and the three for ‘Punctuality for passengers’. The source data is different in the new system to the old one, which changes the outcomes for the above-mentioned performance indicators.

Expansion of the number of changeover stations

The list of changeover stations for the ‘Quality of NS connections to other carriers’ KPI was altered in 2018 at key hubs. All the stations where changeovers between carriers are possible were now included. The number of stations rose from 18 to 27.

Changes in the calculation of ‘Journey information’

Technical corrections were applied to the ‘Journey information’ performance indicator that resulted in the realisation figure being increased slightly and which required changes to the other values. There was also a functional change in this KPI. Up to and including 2017, the information boards at the stations had to display all changes in the timetable with respect to the annual plan (the yellow departure charts). From 2018 onwards, a platform change that is planned more than one day in advance no longer counts as a platform change for this KPI. Only platform changes that are put into effect on the day itself have therefore been counted from 2018 onwards when calculating this performance indicator.

About NS and HSL South

After the V250 (Fyra) was taken out of service in 2013, NS made agreements about alternative types of train for use on the HSL: a mix of high-speed and Intercity trains. There were also agreements to run more trains on the high-speed line with the addition of domestic Intercity trains to and from the main rail network. Finally, NS promised to offer more foreign destinations via HSL South such as London, to operate the IC Brussels service and to substantially increase the frequency of the Thalys service.
In 2013, NS started an Intercity direct service from Amsterdam to Breda and we recommenced the Benelux link one year later. This is the Intercity Brussels, which is again running once an hour between Amsterdam and Brussels without a surcharge or mandatory reservation, via Schiphol and Rotterdam. Thalys went up from 8 to 14 trains a day and the French city of Lille was added as a destination twice daily. From the end of March 2019 onwards, Thalys will run to Disneyland Paris instead of Lille. The Intercity between The Hague and Eindhoven was introduced in April 2017. This train runs partly on the HSL South track and passengers have a journey that is 11 minutes shorter over the whole route. The Eurostar and IC Brussels have been using the HSL South track since April 2018.

Complexity of HSL South

HSL South is complex. The combination of infrastructure, safety, rolling stock and timetable is unique. There are three types of train that run frequent services on the HSL South track. The HSL line consists of both newly laid and conventional track. Trains that run on the HSL South (such as the route from The Hague to Eindhoven, Intercity direct, Intercity Brussels and Eurostar) therefore have to handle multiple system transitions en route for both the power supply and the safety system. This all makes it very vulnerable to faults, and faults can rapidly have major consequences for passengers.

Train cancellations because of TRAXX software problems

Some of the train cancellations in 2018 were due to software issues in the TRAXX locomotives that NS uses on the HSL. All the locomotives have been given new software from the end of 2018, although this also turned out to have an error. NS is busy correcting this. This software is aimed at preventing sudden stoppages on the HSL South. New software is just one of the measures taken to tackle the issues on the HSL South and it will not resolve all the problems.

Changes needed to the HSL South infrastructure

The current trains with TRAXX locomotives have been made suitable for the high-speed line. A radical alteration to the infrastructure is needed in order to get the performance up to the right level in the longer term and make structural improvements. This is the result of an independent study carried out by Railistics that was commissioned by NS and ProRail.
In the long-term vision for the HSL South, NS and ProRail have worked out a series of measures for improving the infrastructure on the HSL South, with the aim of bringing performance in the longer term up to the same level as on the main rail network. That means eliminating design errors that were made when the track was being laid, such as the numerous voltage changeover sections and the multiple safety systems. The same reliability as is achieved on the conventional tracks can only be expected if radical changes are made. Over recent years, NS and ProRail have been working hard on improving performance on the HSL South. NS and ProRail will be continuing the HSL Improvement Programme unabated in 2019.

Trains per day on the HSL South





Intercity direct












Intercity The Hague-Eindhoven


















Intercity Brussels