The risk that NS fails to take sufficient measures to prevent safety incidents, or fails to fulfil its duty of care sufficiently if a serious safety incident occurs involving passengers, employees and/or the locality due to non-compliance with safety procedures or abuses of processes by malicious individuals. ‘Safety’ covers ten safety areas: safety on the railways, personal safety, occupational safety, fire safety, transfer safety, information security, rolling stock safety, environmental safety, food safety, and security (including terrorist threats).
Proper and safe operations are always a focal point, given their importance for our operations. NS seeks to transport its passengers safely, ensure their safety at stations and offer its staff a safe workplace. We started a programme for further improvement of the safety culture in 2015. On aspect of this was a survey among managers and staff, which was repeated at the start of 2018. The programme activities are being further refined on the basis of this. NS aims to grow towards a proactive safety culture in the long term and made progress in this direction in 2018.
Rail travel is one of the safest forms of mobility. NS seeks to continue improving safety by focusing on two elements: control of the safety risks and continuous improvement of safety performance. We are improving control in this broad domain by tightening the NS-wide governance for safety, and by creating a more clear-cut organisation of the Quality, Health, Safety & Environment (QHSE) departments in each business unit, alongside the central organisation for Security. Significant progress has been made in the past period, but further growth is still needed to attain the required maturity. Improvements have been implemented in various safety areas, which has increased safety. Occupational risks and improvement measures regarding occupational safety have been mapped out and implemented using various risk assessments and evaluations (RAEs). With regard to railway safety, NS Operatie harmonised the three existing safety management systems and merged them to create a single safety management system. The trains are also being fitted with ORBIT, an acoustic signalling system that can reduce the number of stop signals passed at danger. As regards personal safety, bringing the access gates into operation at more and more stations is helping to increase safety on trains and at stations. NS is in close contact with public authorities and is kept posted of external developments in the world of safety.
The National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security has said that there is still a real risk of an attack on the railways. The stabbing incident at Amsterdam Centraal station on 31 August is a reminder that we need to remain alert. NS has updated its counter-terrorism policy and plans based on the latest information, in partnership with the government and ProRail. This concerns both preventative and restorative measures (limiting damage and quick recovery). Practice runs were carried out in various areas in 2018 to make sure NS was properly prepared. They included table-top exercises by the NS Crisis Management Organisation, a major operational exercise at Amersfoort station involving the Ministry of Defence, the police, Utrecht Safety Region, the municipality of Amersfoort and ProRail, and numerous smaller-scale exercises, often in collaboration with specialised government agencies. With regard to IT security, NS reassessed the risks of cybercrime and made changes where necessary to ensure further improvements. NS also carried out a major programme in 2017 and 2018 in order to comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Risk control trend
The safety of our staff, passengers and environment is a top priority. The developments sketched above mean that the level of control is still sound and consequently unchanged. Despite the measures, NS cannot rule out safety incidents occurring. According to the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security, the general threat of terrorist attacks in the Netherlands remains high.