Operational performance

During Lost Cuddly Toy Week in December, NS aims to reunite all found cuddly toys with their owners.

Operational performance was below par for 2023 as a whole. Due to disruptions, train cancellations, more frequent withdrawal of rolling stock and reduced seat availability, passengers often did not get the service they are entitled to expect from us, especially in the second half of the year.

The disappointing performance can mainly be attributed to three separate causes. First, the temporary speed limits on the high-speed line (HSL) near Rijpwetering (South Holland), due to construction defects in the viaduct. For almost all of 2023, the maximum speed on this stretch was 80 km/h instead of 300 km/h. This had a major impact on the HSL timetable, which also affected the main rail network.

Second, fewer trains were available. As maintenance companies struggled with limited infrastructure capacity and shortages of mechanics and shunters, it took longer for trains to get back on track.
From spring 2023 onwards, there was also a shortage of trains on the HSL. This was mainly due to the delayed arrival of the new ICNG trains combined with the scheduled return of Traxx locomotives due to expiring leases. Furthermore, the ICNG trains – as might be expected when introducing new rolling stock – had teething problems. From September onwards, train availability improved, but we still faced frequent stoppages and disruptions.

Extensive trackwork also had a major impact on performance last year. For example, at Gouda, Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport, NS was confronted with significant reductions in infrastructure availability. In addition, many freight trains were diverted via routes in North Brabant due to trackwork in Germany. These diversions caused delays, especially for the Intercity connection between The Hague Central Station and Eindhoven and on the Brussels Intercity route.

Other events that had a significant impact included stoppages due to badgers burrowing under the tracks and the IT outage at ProRail’s traffic control centre in Amsterdam.

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