Our financial position and results need to be sound if we are to achieve our ambitions and keep train fares affordable. We should be able to achieve such healthy returns by ensuring good operational performance and high levels of customer satisfaction. This will enable us to keep investing in facilities and measures to accommodate the expected growth in passenger numbers. This is also in the public interest. The development in the underlying result from operating activities is a good yardstick for assessing whether NS is able to achieve healthy returns on its business operations. The underlying result shows the result from operating activities after eliminating exceptional items.
(in millions of euros)
Result from operating activities
(Of which result €55 million in 2019 and €47 million in 2018 came from foreign operations)
Settlement of various claims
Fyra remarketing fee
WW II compensation
Repayment of ACM fine received
Underlying result from operating activities
Impact of IFRS 16
Underlying excluding impact of IFRS 16
Of which underlying result from foreign operations, excluding impact of IFRS 16
The underlying operating (excluding the IFRS 16 effect) result rose by €37 million in 2019 to €242 million (2018: €205 million). The CLE (Correction for Central London Employment) mechanism concerns our Greater Anglia franchise agreement with the Department for Transport in the United Kingdom. The aim of the CLE mechanism is to prevent external economic factors affecting passenger revenues. The mechanism assumes an association between growing employment in central London and growing passenger revenues. However, it has become clear that in reality this association is different from how it was envisaged in the CLE mechanism. This is probably due to changes in commuter traffic and to the growing popularity of teleworking, but also to a change in the nature of jobs. This means there is a risk that Greater Anglia, like other franchises in and around London, will have to pay more to the Department for Transport for an assumed substantial increase in passengers and sales without seeing an actual increase in the number of passengers or in revenue. The future outcomes of the CLE mechanism may have a significant effect on the future profitability of Greater Anglia.
The appeal lodged against the ACM fine that was imposed in 2017 has been successful. The court ruled that the fine was unlawful and should be refunded. NS received the refund in 2019 and added it to the result for that year. However, the ACM has appealed against this court ruling.
During the Second World War, NS operated trains on instructions from the occupying forces. A special committee chaired by Job Cohen has been tasked with handling individual compensation on moral grounds to an as yet undefined group of survivors and their direct descendants. The committee started work in January 2019 and has issued the following advice: ‘Jews, Roma and Sinti who, during the Second World War and on the occupiers' instruction, were transported by NS by train to Westerbork, Vught or Amersfoort or to other locations in the Netherlands - for further transport to concentration or extermination camps with the aim of exterminating them as a population group - are eligible for individual financial compensation. Upon their death, this also applies to their direct descendants.' NS has adopted the committee's recommendation and made a provision of €47 million in 2019 to account for the expected compensatory payment and costs of execution. Given the nature of this compensation scheme, estimates of the amount required are by definition uncertain both regarding the number of survivors who are still alive and their direct descendants, and the number of them who will actually apply for compensation. In 2019, €29 was withdrawn from the provision and distributed. The provision was not recalibrated until 31 December 2019, based on the expected number of applications.
The underlying result for operations in the Netherlands rose by €70 million to €213 million (2018: €143). This improvement in the results of NS in the Netherlands can be attributed to a rise in turnover combined with a very limited rise in costs.
The underlying result from operating activities abroad decreased by €33 million to €29 million (2018: €62 million). The primary cause of this decrease was a deterioration in the performance of Abellio Germany, whose results dropped by €31 million to negative €33 million. Abellio UK managed to slightly increase its result from operating activities to €62 million.