Trains like the wind

With roots dating back as far as 1837, Dutch Railways continues to make a valuable contribution to mobility and progress within the Netherlands, while further playing a significant role in growing the country’s domestic market

The story of NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways – NS) began during the 1830s when the Dutch King, William I launched an investigation into the requirement of a rail network to be introduced to the Netherlands. It was subsequently decided that a railway system was required within the country and by 1835 the Dutch government had granted private individuals permission to construct a railway between Amsterdam and Haarlem. On 8th August 1837 Hollandsche IJzeren Spoorweg Maatschappij (HIJSM) was founded, which is today regarded as the oldest predecessor of NS.

Today NS represents the principle passenger railway operator within the Netherlands and operates some 4800 scheduled electric trains everyday. Since 2001, NS has also worked to accumulate an increasing share of both rail and bus transport across Europe through its subsidiary Abellio. NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen today consists of:

  • NS Reizigers, responsible for rail transport on the Dutch main rail network, including the High Speed Line, and for the associated sales and service activities. NS Reizigers handles the logistics, provides journey information, sells tickets and manages the Customer Service department. With more than 11,000 employees and revenue of €2.3 billion, it is both the largest and the most high profile of the NS business units. The international division ‘NS International’ handles the international train operations and international ticket sales. NS International operates trains to Belgium, France and Germany.
  • NedTrain, which is responsible for upkeep of the trains in the Netherlands, working on continually maintaining, cleaning and upgrading the company’s trains and making them more sustainable. With 2900 employees, NedTrain’s operations are purely business-tobusiness, primarily within NS for NS Reizigers. Since 1 November 2016 NS Reizigers and NedTrain have merged into NS Operations.
  • NS Stations is tasked with providing a good network of large and small train stations. For millions of passengers, these stations are a crucial link in their every day door-to-door journey. Together with ProRail, the authorities and all the carriers, NS Stations and its 5300 staff want to make the train ride and the stay in the immediate vicinity of the station as pleasant and Dutch Railways 140 bcomfortable as possible.
  • Abellio, which was founded in 2001 as NedRailways, obtains and operates public transport franchises aimed at consolidating the position of NS in the European market as it becomes more deregulated. The United Kingdom and Germany have the largest deregulated railway markets in Europe. Abellio won its first contract, Merseyrail, in the United Kingdom in 2003, in a 50-50 joint venture with Serco.

Throughout the business energy efficiency is currently a major area of focus for NS, with the company aiming to use a total of 35 per cent less energy by 2020. This goal is the result of thorough analysis of possible efficiency measures across five areas, comprised of technical (rolling stock); timetabling; load factor; ECO driving; and ECO stabling. “From this analysis we came to the conclusion that a 35 per cent improvement of energy use per passenger per kilometre is challenging – but achievable. My vision is of a sustainable future as a truly circular and inclusive society. We only have one planet and that is why we need to respect it and leave it behind in a better state for our children and future generations. We need to progress quickly to a climate-positive society to offset the damage of the past two decades and to move towards an economy based on circular business models. At the same time, we need to make society much more inclusive, with respect for differences and dialogue to jointly resolve problems,” explains NS Corporate Sustainability Officer, Carola Wijdoogen. “In technical terms while considering how to lower energy use we included efficiency measures explicitly in the specifications for refurbishment and for new rolling stock, including heat pump/active CO2 level optimised recirculation, aerodynamic improvements, LED lighting with intelligent light control (automatic dimming based on ambient light level) and automatic energy efficient stabling.”

With regards to the development of its ECO driving initiatives, NS has had a programme in place since 2011, which has enabled the company to achieve an energy saving that currently equates to four per cent of previous usage. During 2017 the company further plans to introduce a simple Driver Advisory System (SDA) for train drivers, which will be integrated with electronic timetables via tablet PC. In the field of ECO stabling, NS has also managed a programme since 2012 that has resulted in a structural energy saving of 3.5 per cent. This saving has been achieved by switching off systems as much as possible in parked trains, while further automated functions within newly refurbished trains will improve these results.

Throughout all of its operations NS plans to make a dedicated transition to produce zero carbon, while introducing renewable sources for all of its energy requirements. In addition to working to enhance the company’s energy efficiency, NS remains committed to improving the travel experiences of its customers. “Our main focus is as always with our customers and we continue to work to keep our clients more than satisfied with the services that we offer,” Carola concludes. “The needs of our customers and society will change over the years and be different in three years to what they are, but our focus will still be to add as much value for our customers and society as we can. In terms of sustainability, that means that we want to be a climate neutral, circular and inclusive company. That will be our licence to grow.”