NS reports in accordance with the GRI Standards’ Core option. The GRI Standards are the most widely accepted guidelines globally for preparing non-financial annual reports. The guidelines themselves can be found at www.globalreporting.org. NS asked EY to perform an assurance engagement that provides limited assurance with respect to the non-financial information in the annual report.
The non-financial information can be found in the following chapters: In Brief, 2019 in a Nutshell, Our Contributions to Dutch Society, Foreword by the CEO, Our Strategy, the Profile of NS, Our Activities and Performance in the Netherlands, Our Activities and Performance Abroad, and the sections Organisational Improvement, Dialogue with our Stakeholders, and Scope and Reporting Criteria. NS feels that external assurance is important because it generates more certainty about the reliability of the information given.
In the NS 2019 Annual Report, the performance of NS, the social aspects of that performance and the financial results are presented as an integrated whole wherever possible. This is a deliberate choice. NS is at the heart of the community. Passenger transport by train and the commercial operation and development of stations and their surroundings are intrinsically important to society. Other social aspects, such as care for the natural and social environment, are thus also an integral component of NS’s business operations.
The selection of the indicators is based on the GRI method, the 2019 Transport Plan, the discussions with our stakeholders and the resulting material relevance matrix. The information that we report is based where possible on measurements and calculations (e.g. for electricity consumption). Other data is taken from central administrative systems (e.g. HR data) or based on information provided by third parties (e.g. waste). If there have been changes in the definitions, measurement methods or the inherent limits in the data or if extrapolations or estimates have been used, this is specified in the report, the definition cards for the performance indicators in the Transport Plan or the reporting criteria. The last two can be found at www.ns.nl/mvoberekeningen and the definition cards in the 2019 Transport Plan.
Sustainability has been part of the regular planning and control cycle since 2010. This means that the data is reported in the monthly reports. The processes for collecting and validating the data are described in the CSR Handbook. The internal validation procedures are performed by our auditors. They examine deviations in the data with respect to previous reports, consider the plausibility of the data in the reports and request supporting evidence where necessary.
The scope of the report has been determined on the basis of an analysis of the material relevance. This means that we are reporting on the material subjects and drawing on the insights yielded by this analysis when making choices about the amount of detail and limits to our reporting on these topics. The material relevance matrix shows both the theme’s importance to stakeholders and the impact or influence of NS. Themes where NS has little impact or that stakeholders do not consider particularly important are not included in the report. In the context of the stakeholder dialogue in 2019, Abellio regularly provided input on material topics such as NS's financial position and operations in Europe, answered questions from stakeholders and political parties, and shared current affairs and developments abroad.
The report covers the 2019 financial year, which ran from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. This report primarily concerns NS’s activities in the Netherlands. The activities in the United Kingdom and Germany are also discussed where they involve operations in which NS holds a stake of more than 50%. All data has been measured unless stated otherwise in the methodology. Any estimates are carried out using the prescribed procedures in our Reporting Manual and then checked. An explanation of the margins of uncertainty in the data quantifying our impact can be found at www.ns.nl. We report on the transport supply chain as a whole where procurement is concerned or where our process of value creation gives reason to do so. The choices we have made in this regard are specified under value creation. Where information covering the whole supply chain is reported, this is explicitly stated. Generally speaking, the report does not cover subcontractors or suppliers. In those parts of the report where it does, this is explained. Acquisitions are included in the data from the date of acquisition; disposals are included until the date of disposal, unless stated otherwise.