Rail travel is popular. Passengers are satisfied and their numbers are growing. In 2019, NS managed to continue the good results achieved in 2018. Passenger appreciation for our services continued to rise and we maintained our solid operational performance on the Dutch main rail network. Results on HSL South were mixed, especially in the first part of the year, but recovered as the year progressed. The results achieved over the past year are covered by the midterm review in 2020, when the government will conduct an interim evaluation of our performance during the first half of the franchise period (2015-2019).
Our performance on the main rail network
Realisation in 2019
Realisation in 2018
Minimum value for 2019
Target value for 2019
General customer satisfaction with the domestic main rail network
General customer satisfaction with HSL South services
Customer satisfaction with personal safety
Punctuality for passengers (to 5 minutes) on the main rail network
Punctuality for passengers (to 15 minutes) on the main rail network
Punctuality for passengers (to 5 minutes) on HSL South
Quality of connections to other carriers
Seat availability at peak times (main rail network)
Seat availability at peak times (HSL South)
Top 10 most crowded trains
Journey information during the train journey
Information on the train and at stations about delays
The first half of the franchise period (2015-2019) in retrospect
During the first five years of the main rail network franchise, our focus has been primarily on improving operational performance, customer perception of their train journey and more seamless door-to-door travel. Our services have remained firmly centred on our passengers. Thanks to our solid performance and favourable economic conditions, the number of NS passenger-kilometres increased by 3.7% relative to 2018. This is the highest growth rate since 2008. Passenger-kilometres rose by 3.2% on working days and by 6.5% in the weekends. Most of the growth was seen on routes in the Randstad conurbation that were already quite busy. It seems, therefore, that NS has met its target of achieving 1.5% growth on top of overall mobility growth.
In five years, passenger satisfaction has increased from 75% in 2015 to 89% in 2019. Factors contributing to that include enhanced operational performance and improved customer perception of their train journey. For example, punctuality rose from 90.1% in 2015 to 92.6% in 2019, and in 2018 we also launched a high-frequency Intercity service between Eindhoven and Amsterdam, with a train departing every ten minutes. We improved the NS App, offering passengers even more control over their train journeys. To ensure a comfortable journey, we revamped old Sprinter and Intercity trains and purchased new trains, investing a total of €3.8 billion over the period through 2024. Since 2017, all our trains have been running on clean wind power. We renovated 14 stations in collaboration with ProRail, including major stations such as Rotterdam CS, Utrecht CS, Den Haag CS and Delft. Twenty-four stations now feature a so-called StationsHuiskamer, or Station Living Room (+8). The public transport bicycle (OV-fiets) has proved a major success, with the number of rides increasing dramatically from 1.9 million at the start of the franchise to over 5 million in 2019. We are seen as an attractive employer, occupying 5th place on the list of most attractive employers in the Netherlands (2015: 46th).
Achievements in 2019
We have seen very high customer satisfaction levels over 2019. Indeed, general customer satisfaction rose by 3 percentage points to 89%, a record high. Passengers are positive about NS both on the main rail network and on HSL South. Despite strong growth in passenger numbers, seat availability at peak times remained stable around 95% in 2019. From September, however, that figure did come under pressure due to more crowded trains and rising passenger numbers. New Sprinter trains were deployed. More new trains will be brought into operation over the next few years, including the New Generation Intercity trains in 2021. We view the continuing growth in passenger numbers as a positive development, as it means that more and more people are opting for the train as a sustainable mode of travel. Yet the growth in passenger volumes also poses a clear challenge, as we are now approaching the limits of the existing infrastructural capacity, resulting in more crowded trains.
Abellio was founded at the beginning of the millennium in order to help NS prepare for deregulation of the European railway market and help it achieve its objectives in the Netherlands. Abellio's strategy was founded on three central pillars: earn, learn and prepare, while maintaining a proper balance between risk and results. Our purpose for Abellio is to achieve sustainable financial results and offer reliable services to our passengers. Dutch passengers should eventually be able to benefit from our operations abroad, for example in the form of cross-border transport services. 2019 saw the launch of the Stuttgarter Netz, Ruhr-Sieg Netz 2 and S-Bahn Rhein-Ruhr franchises in Germany, while in the United Kingdom we commenced our East Midlands franchise. The fourth-largest rail transport company both in the United Kingdom and in Germany, Abellio posted EBIT of €55 million and a net profit attributable to NS of €4 million. Abellio's operations in the UK turn a profit, but circumstances remain difficult. The situation on the German market deteriorated as a result of external factors with a negative impact on our results. Combined with the costs of mobilising new contracts, those circumstances resulted in a net loss of our German operations in 2019.
It is crucial for NS to stay financially healthy in the future if train fares are to remain affordable and if we are to continue financing the investments required to absorb the expected growth in passenger numbers. Urgent as they are, investments will have to pay for themselves in the end. This is why NS strives to achieve solid financial results as a logical outcome of good operational performance and satisfied customers. NS can look back on a healthy year in financial terms. We recorded revenues of €6,661 million, up 12.4%, much of which was generated abroad. NS made investments totalling €769 million. The main rail network franchise KPIs for 2020 are also determining factors in the financial policy for the NS business plan. For example, we are continuing to invest in programmes that will help us achieve the KPIs, as well as in customer satisfaction, new rolling stock and IT systems.
In 2019, passengers travelled over 361 million more kilometres by train compared with 2018. This means that we have further improved our positive social impact on mobility and safe travel compared with private cars. The negative impact due to travel time has also increased as a result. Since rail passengers get more exercise, we have also, since 2018, calculated our positive social impact on health. That impact increased last year. Our environmental impact increased thanks in particular to the rise in the number of passengers. The positive impact of expenditure and education was greater because NS had a larger workforce. A new calculation method for occupational safety could not be used for previous years, so comparison is not possible.
NS in 2020 and beyond
Our figures clearly reflect the significant role and contribution of NS as a provider of stations, trains and door-to-door travel facilities. Going forward, our aim is to maintain our high level of performance and, where possible, achieve further growth and quality improvements. One challenge, however, is that due to the sharp rise in passenger numbers in recent years, we are now approaching the capacity limits of our infrastructure. In the years ahead we aim to accommodate further growth in passenger numbers by offering higher frequencies, more trains and longer trains. To that end, we will continue on the path towards smart innovations and collaboration with our partners. In addition, we will continue making targeted investments in rolling stock and mobility.