Finances in brief

Train journeys to Berlin are faster since December. The new journey time between Amsterdam and Berlin is 5 hours and 52 minutes. Thanks to changes to the Dutch railway infrastructure, a new timetable and the use of other trains, the journey time on the IC Berlin has been reduced by half an hour.

Improvement in financial performance visible, but still insufficient

In 2023, NS had an underlying result from operating activities[1]of -€191 million (2022: -€421[2]million, 2021: -€952 million, 2020: -€890 million). This is an improvement on previous years since the COVID-19 pandemic, but still manifestly inadequate for a financially sound NS. The results are inadequate partly because of structurally lower passenger numbers than before the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for commuters, now that it has become common practice to work from home. In addition, NS has raised fares for most train tickets and season tickets by less than the inflation NS has faced in recent years. The ‘indexation gap’ incurred since 2021 is 8.9%. NS recognised a Transition Fee for Public Transport (TVOV) of €45 million in 2023, as well as a €14 million adjustment to the Public Transport Availability Payment (BVOV) for 2022. In 2022, the recognised BVOV amount was €274 million. As the new franchise for the main rail network (HRN) for the period 2025–2033 shows limited earning capacity with a below-market return, an impairment on non-current assets of €402 million has been recognised. Together with the lower depreciation due to the HRN impairment recognised in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the net effect of the HRN impairments on the result from operating activities amounts to -€318 million. An impairment loss of €121 million was also recognised in Germany, due to a downward adjustment of the forecasts to 2030 for the current franchises in Germany. Impairments do not cause cash flows but reflect reduced earning capacity in the future. Together with other non-recurring and exceptional accounting items, the result from operating activities is -€540 million (2022: €391 million). On balance, NS was left with a net loss of -€380 million in 2023 (2022: €574 million net profit).

In 2023, NS invested[4] a total of €548 million (2022: €431[3] million), mainly in purchasing new trains and upgrading existing trains. The operating cash flow from operating activities[5] came to €229 million (2202: €366 million) and, as in previous years, is therefore insufficient to cover capital expenditure. Net debt[6] has risen to €973 million (2022: €755 million) over the past few years, despite government support measures in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. If NS is to continue investing in mobility for the future, it is important to improve the results and operating cash flows from operating activities.

We expect to see further financial challenges in the years ahead. NS will have to continue to borrow in the coming years to fund all of its investments and to refinance existing loans as they expire. We will continue our efforts to adjust the cost level in line with the downward adjustment of passenger revenues, thereby improving results and cash flows. A financially healthy NS is essential if we are to continue serving the public interest and achieve our ambitions for mobility in the Netherlands.

At the request of the House of Representatives, the government released €120 million to allow NS to postpone a proposed 8.7% increase in rail fares and season tickets in 2024. While this measure brings immediate relief, it is not a long-term solution. NS will therefore be forced by rising costs and the ‘indexation gap’ already accumulated over the past few years to implement the delayed fare increase in 2025, on top of the normal inflation adjustment. That could mean an increase of more than 10% in 2025.

  • 1Result from operating activities adjusted for the effect of non-recurring and exceptional accounting items.
  • 2In NS’s 2022 annual report: -€304 million. Temporary additional costs due to a 2022 revision of the capitalisation and depreciation method for IT expenses (development environments) were classified as a one-off exceptional item in 2022 (-€117 million) for comparability with 2021.
  • 3In NS’s 2022 annual report: €450 million. The value now refers to investments in continuing operations only.
  • 4Capital expenditure exclusively concerns the acquisition of tangible and intangible non-current assets and property.
  • 5Operating cash flow from operating activities serves as a year-on-year comparable indicator of the cash-generating capacity of operating activities. This indicator is derived from the consolidated cash flow statement in the financial statements and concerns the result after adjustments, after deduction of income tax paid/received and after redemption of lease obligations.
  • 6Net debt relates exclusively to private loans as disclosed in the financial statements, after deduction of cash and cash equivalents (excluding security deposits for energy contracts), money market funds and short-term deposits.
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