NS and the sector partners are creating a socioeconomic impact by providing mobility and by giving people the opportunity to travel from A to B for work, study or recreation, thereby contributing to the economy. Travelling by train also helps connect people and promotes social inclusiveness. The importance of mobility in the Netherlands has been valued by the Kennis Instituut Mobiliteit (a mobility knowledge centre) at €76 billion. €7,776 million of that can be ascribed to NS (€7,652 million in 2017).
The travelling time for the door-to-door journey results in social costs because passengers are not able to utilise their time as they would like. This applies above all to time lost to delays and to time spent in overcrowded trains (for example due to a lack of seating). The negative impact of travelling was €5,727 million in 2018 (€5,608 million in 2017, following a recalculation). The increase in the negative impact was due to the fact that there were more train journeys. The impact of time spent travelling in crowded trains has improved substantially thanks to measures taken to deal with overcrowding, such as the deployment of more rolling stock. In short, the impact analysis shows that ‘time is money’: for a more positive impact the time spent on the entire journey needs to be shortened, and time in the train must be spent efficiently and comfortably.
Environmental impact: emissions, land use, waste, water and noise
The negative environmental impact is the result of using fossil fuels, among other things. The use of fossil fuels causes air pollution through emissions of e.g. CO2, SO2, NOx and fine particulates. This has a negative impact on climate, nature and health, resulting in social costs. The use of 100% green power for trains and buildings has considerably reduced this impact over the past few years. This negative impact has been halved compared with 2014. Land use, waste, water consumption and noise nuisance also result in negative environmental impacts.
Compared with cars, trains have a positive environmental impact. Travelling by train avoids some air pollution because pollution produced by the train – along with the public transport bicycle – is low compared to car journeys and alternatives for transport to and from the station. The positive impact on noise and land use compared with the car concerns the roads and noise abatement measures that are not required because passengers are opting for the train. We have only calculated the positive environmental impact compared with the car for ‘elective passengers’, i.e. those who are willing and able to make a choice between the car and the train.
Negative environmental impact
Positive impact with respect to cars
Our negative environmental impact improved by €15 million in 2018, mainly because we no longer run diesel trains and we sold bus company Qbuzz. The positive environmental impact of travel with NS compared to using the car rose to €291 million as a result.
The current negative environmental impact was about €72 million (€87 million in 2017, following recalculation), broken down into about €9 million as a direct consequence of NS and about €63 million in the transport sector as a whole including transport to and from the station, the manufacture of the trains, plus electricity and infrastructure.