Our impact on the Netherlands
In 2022, NS welcomed more passengers than in 2021. Our social impact is considerable. This is reflected in areas such as mobility, safety and the environment, as well as in our expenditure.
We use our impact model to provide insight into our impact on Dutch society. In that model we translate the effects of our operations into positive or negative values expressed in euros.
Besides these effects, we also have an impact on society in many other fields. Below are some examples of our contribution to solving societal challenges in the Netherlands.
The Dutch government has decided that 100,000 new houses are to be built every year during the period up to 2030. Those houses have to be climate neutral and accessible, while space is scarce. NS is contributing ideas on how to ensure good connections for new housing estates, some of which will be built on its own land. To ensure accessibility for these housing estates in the long term, the residents should have a choice of different modes of transport. In addition to train services, therefore, NS will also offer shared transport facilities of its own and those of its partners. However, there is also a negative impact: construction activities for new stations near new housing estates and villages may cause noise nuisance for local residents. It is our task to minimise that nuisance.
The Dutch population will grow by one million over the period up to 2030. This will causes pressure on the liveability of many areas, on top of the existing challenges in connection with pollution, safety (including road safety), congestion and education. Thanks to public transport, cities are becoming more and more pleasant and healthy places to live. High-quality rail connections to and from our cities help to reduce congestion and pollution while improving road safety. Providing such connections, therefore, will remain a key priority for us. In addition, our train services and OV-fiets concept help to make cities accessible for everybody - including people who do not have a car.
Excessive nitrogen emissions are threatening the ecosystem in the Netherlands. Road transport and agriculture are the main sources of those emissions. If people travel by train instead of by car, substantial nitrogen and CO2 emissions can be prevented. Persuading people to travel by train instead of by car is an effective method, therefore, to help solve the nitrogen issue in the Netherlands. At the same time, rail transport itself appears to be responsible for relatively large emissions of particulate matter. We are examining ways of reducing those.
Inequality in the Netherlands is growing. This is why participation and equal opportunities are crucial. NS wants to be there for everybody. For that reason, in 2022 we offered equal travel opportunities for passengers with a disability at 27 more stations, and engaged with people with a minor mental disability to find ways of making it easier for them to travel by train. In addition, in 2022 we signed the 2022-2023 Administrative Agreement on the Accessibility of Public Transport with ProRail. The purpose of this agreement is to ensure that public transport is accessible to all by 2040. The staff shortages at NS in 2022 also affected our travel assistance service. On some occasions, no travel assistance was available or the passengers concerned had to wait for a long time before being assisted. We are committed to implementing improvements.
Due to high inflation rates and soaring energy prices, many people in the Netherlands had less money to spend in 2022. In September 2022, the inflation rate even reached 14.5%. We strive to keep train fares affordable, so that rail travel remains available for as many people as possible. At the same time however, the high inflation rate is also pushing up our own costs. For the most part we paid those costs ourselves, and did not pass them on in the new train fares for 2023. After all, we want to keep rail travel attractive for everybody.
Calculating our social impact
We present our social impact by expressing our positive and negative socio-economic and environmental effects in euros. In this chapter, we objectify our social impact by expressing some of those effects in monetary terms. For further information about the terminology, the principles applied and the valuations and sources used, consult the NS 2022 Handbook on socio-economic impact analysis (in Dutch).
Mobility and travel time
The Kennis Instituut Mobiliteit, a knowledge centre for mobility issues, has valued the importance of mobility in the Netherlands at €81 billion. NS used the results of that study to attach a certain value to each kilometre travelled by our passengers on our trains. Multiplying this value by the total number of passenger-kilometres at NS in 2022 results in an overall positive socio-economic value. In 2022, passengers travelled 13.3 billion kilometres by train (2021: 9 billion), resulting in a total socio-economic value of €6,917 million (2021: €4,114 million).
The negative value from travelling by train exists in the extent that passengers cannot entirely spend the time they need to travel from A to B in other useful ways. As a result, the total door-to-door travel time also generates social costs. Above all, this applies to time lost due to delays and to time spent in overcrowded trains. This negative value of time spent travelling amounted to €5,220 million in 2022 (compared with €2,963 million in 2021). Given the fact that the positive value exceeds the negative value, travelling by train has a net positive socio-economic value impact.
Environmental impact: emissions, land use, waste, water and noise
Although travelling by train is climate-neutral on an annual basis, NS does have an impact on the environment. This environmental impact results, among other things, from the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels cause air pollution due to emissions of substances such as CO2, SO2, NOx and particulate matter. Land use, waste, water consumption and noise nuisance also have negative environmental impacts. The use of 100% green power for our trains and buildings (on an annual basis) has considerably reduced our negative impact over the past few years, even by more than 50% compared with our reference year 2014.
In 2022, the negative environmental value was €79 million (2021: €55 million), of which approximately €7 million as a direct consequence of NS's own operations and approximately €72 million as a consequence of the first and last mile, the building of trains, electricity and infrastructure. The increase compared with 2021 was caused by the rise in the number of journeys made and the resulting increase in the consumption of resources for the first and last mile.
The use of public transport instead of passenger cars prevents part of the impact of air pollution from CO2 emissions. The positive impact of rail travel on noise and land use compared with cars consists in the road construction and noise abatement measures that are not required because passengers are opting for the train. The positive environmental impact compared with car use was only calculated for ‘elective passengers’, i.e. those who are willing and able to make a choice between the car and the train. Compared with car use, travelling by train had a positive environmental impact of €373 million in 2022 (2021: €223 million).
NS contributes to safety in society by providing safe transport and a safe environment for its passengers and employees. We constantly work to guarantee occupational safety, personal safety and safe travel.
The social costs of occupational safety (accidents at work) in 2022 were €33.9 million (2021: €32.4 million). The social costs of personal safety (or lack thereof) in 2022 were approximately €27 million (2021: €19 million).
To provide safe travel, NS is working with its partners on preventing collisions, derailments and unsafe situations on the tracks and at the stations. In 2022, the social costs of unsafe situations amounted to approximately €15.5 million (2021: €7.8 million). The number of traffic accidents in the first and last mile is much higher, and so is their impact, which in 2022 amounted to approximately €90 million (2021: €53 million).
Rail travel train is relatively safe compared to transport by car. We calculate this positive impact by determining the number of avoided accidents. To that end, we calculate how many more accidents would have happened if all our elective passengers had travelled by car instead of by train. In 2022, the social benefits of safe transport by train were approximately €502 million (2021: €298 million). Compared with the use of cars, travelling by train has a positive socio-economic impact on safety.
More active lifestyle
Passengers who use our services become more active than they would be if they opted for the car. Moving to and from the train or bus station makes a certain percentage of otherwise inactive people become active. On average, NS passengers get 16 minutes of extra exercise every day. Due to this extra exercise, one sixth of rail passengers move to the group of people with an active lifestyle. Such a lifestyle can avoid costs associated with an inactive lifestyle, including medical costs and loss of productivity. The positive impact of this in 2022 was €1 million (2021: €0.6 million). Compared with the use of cars, travelling by train has a positive socio-economic impact on the ‘more active lifestyle’ criterion.
Training and deployability of employees
NS exerts a positive socio-economic impact by developing the knowledge, skills and talents of its employees, by aiming to keep them in sustained employment, and by being a diverse and inclusive organisation. Training programmes at NS increase the economic value of our people and improve their potential on the labour market, also after they have left NS. The social benefits of this in 2022 amounted to approximately €19 million (2021: €11 million).
We also have a socio-economic impact through our own expenditure, which includes the money we spend by purchasing services and goods, making investments and paying salaries. This means, for instance, that we generate jobs at our suppliers. The economic benefits were €1,436 million of added value at suppliers (2021: €1,373 million), in the form of approximately 21,676 jobs.