How NS adds value to society

The Zeeland Line celebrated its 150th anniversary on 8 September. Since 1873, the line and its 11 stations have connected towns and villages in the provinces of Zeeland and North-Brabant with each other and with the rest of the Netherlands.

As a provider of sustainable mobility, NS is committed each and every day to making Dutch society more sustainable. As a major carrier and employer that is inextricably linked with society, NS has a considerable socioeconomic impact. That impact covers many areas and is usually positive, but sometimes it is negative.

In the past, we used to describe our socioeconomic impact using a social impact model. In that model, we translated our positive and negative impact into euros. The model only allowed us to describe our impact on the Netherlands in a limited way. We have therefore decided not to use the model in that form for this annual report, and will instead describe the impact of our business activities from a more holistic perspective. The key question is: what added value do we provide for the Netherlands through our business activities?

Offering travel opportunities for all

Thanks to its comprehensive timetable, complementary transport and attractive stations, NS offers travel opportunities for all. Every single day, over a million travellers use NS to travel to work, school or university, or for a day out. We offer people the freedom to travel whenever and wherever they want and connect family and friends, in the Netherlands or abroad. Time on the train is free to spend. By offering a variety of season tickets and target group tickets, we aim to keep train travel affordable. We provide travel assistance for passengers with disabilities and our trains are becoming more and more accessible.

However, travelling with NS is not always a wholly positive experience. Delays or train cancellations lead to lost time and dissatisfaction. Sometimes people are prevented from fully participating in social and economic life due to faltering public transport facilities. Broken lifts and escalators and various mental barriers mean train travel is not always accessible to everyone. There is also a limit to the affordability of train tickets. Our costs are rising due to high inflation. For the most part we paid those costs ourselves, and did not pass them on in new train fares in 2021, 2022 or 2023. That allowed us to keep the train attractive for everyone, but it created a huge hole in NS’s budget.

Contributing to a sustainable society

The world is facing the great challenge of tackling climate change. Public transport is an important part of the solution. Those who decide not to travel by car or by plane save a lot of CO2 emissions, especially since NS trains run on 100% green electricity on an annual basis. In addition, our new and upgraded trains consume less energy, and our train drivers always drive in an energy efficient manner. We also contribute to a cleaner world with our waste policy and by recycling materials. Finally, as a means of transport, the train is highly efficient in the use of space. We also use our sustainability policy to set an example to our suppliers, and make demands on them too.

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. NS consumes a lot of raw and processed materials, which we reuse as much as possible; we also produce waste and heat and cool office buildings.

Ensuring new, accessible housing and liveable cities

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. To get people to use the train in new residential areas, it is important to opt for high-density construction so as to create proximity. This is in line with current urbanisation plans as well as people’s wishes. NS is contributing ideas on how to ensure good connections for new housing estates, some of which will be built on its own land. Examples include the Cartesius Triangle in Utrecht and the Spoorzone in Zwolle, where over 4,000 houses are being built in total.

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, NS will therefore offer its own shared transport options and shared transport options from its mobility 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. In addition, residential space cannot be used for other purposes.

The Dutch population will grow by one million residents by 2037. This will cause pressure on the liveability of many areas, on top of the existing challenges in connection with pollution, safety (including road safety) and congestion. Thanks to public transport, cities are becoming more pleasant 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 public transport bicycles help to make cities accessible for everybody – including people who do not have a car.

Our stations also contribute to a liveable and safe environment. Stations are dynamic places where people work, live and travel, they offer a range of facilities and, for example, ‘Station Living Rooms’ that serve as meeting places for the neighbourhood. As a gateway to the rest of the world, our stations serve as the focal point of towns and villages.

Contributing to the economy

As one of the largest companies in the Netherlands, we play an important role in the Dutch economy. For example, we enable people to go to work. The share of train travel in mobility is over 12% (KiM Mobility Assessment 2023). During the COVID-19 period, we all realised once again how indispensable train travel is for keeping the Netherlands moving: we ensured that police officers, nurses and teachers could still go to work.

NS is also an employer itself. We provide jobs for over 20,000 people and invest in training and development opportunities. We are also a social employer: for example, we provide work for refugees and people with limited opportunities on the labour market. We frequently discuss attractive working conditions with the trade unions.

We also have a socioeconomic impact through our own expenditure, which includes the money we spend by purchasing goods and services, making investments and paying salaries. This means, for instance, that we generate jobs at our suppliers. The economic benefits exceeded €1.4 billion in added value for suppliers, or approximately 21,700 jobs (2022 figures).

Value creation model

The value creation model, based on the guidelines of the IFRS Integrated Reporting Framework, guides the structure of this report. In the value creation model, we describe our key resources, such as people, trains and technology. We explain how we add value to those resources through our business activities. We also describe the results from those business activities, as well as their positive and negative impacts.

Each year, NS provides sustainable mobility to millions of passengers in the Netherlands. In doing so, we contribute to the accessibility and economic development of cities and regions, and to the country’s climate goals. In our annual report, we report on the subjects that our internal and external stakeholders feel to be relevant and that enable us to create value for Dutch society. We use our material relevance analysis for this purpose.


To make our business model work as effectively as possible, we depend on key inputs such as people, trains and technology. As a carrier, we would not be able to function without our people and their knowledge. But other inputs are important too, such as energy (e.g. from wind) for powering our trains.

Business model

The main foundation of the value creation model is our business model. Our mission, ambition and underlying core activities serve as the input for our strategy.


The activities in our business model have a variety of internal and external outcomes, such as our financial results. We provide an average of 1,085,000 train journeys per working day, we have high employee satisfaction scores and by far the majority of our trains run on time.

Our impact

We aim to make a significant positive impact on our environment, given that sustainable mobility can generate huge economic and social benefits for the Netherlands. At the same time, however, we have an environmental footprint, as we use land and raw materials, and our passengers lose time by travelling. If we are to continue facilitating travel in future and keep the Netherlands mobile, it is important for us to understand the effects of our business model on society and to keep using that knowledge as a control parameter. We know, for instance, that the social costs of a train journey are lower than those of a trip by car or plane. We can improve our social return by getting people who would otherwise travel by car or plane to take the train.

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