Seat availability

Performance indicator

Realisation in 2023

Realisation in 2022

Target value for 2023

Minimum value for 2023

Seat availability at peak times (main rail network)





Seat availability on HSL at peak times





Number of crowded peak-hour trains per working week





This indicator shows the chance of a passenger having a seat throughout their journey if they board at a peak time. At the beginning of the year, we were able to adjust timetables and train lengths quite effectively to meet passenger demand, despite lower availability of main guards. From April onwards, by deploying office staff as ‘train assistants’ we were able to address the shortage of main guards on long trains. By the end of 2023, we had largely solved the shortage of main guards.

Furthermore, especially on days with busy events, such as Carnival, seat availability during peak hours was low. Seat availability was also low in connection with major train withdrawals causing restrictions in peak-hour transport capacity, such as between Gouda and Rotterdam and Rotterdam/The Hague in the autumn, and during large-scale disruptions to train services. Examples include the stoppage on the Den Bosch–Eindhoven section due to badgers burrowing in the railway embankment, and the accident at Voorschoten station. In both cases, it proved impossible to provide sufficient additional capacity on the alternative route.

Particularly in June and early September, the withdrawal of trains from the timetable seriously reduced seat availability. Using dedicated mathematical models, we distributed the available trains during those periods in a way that minimised the number of minutes for which passengers had no seat.

Seat availability on the HSL

The HSL had a relatively poor performance in 2023, with many delays and train cancellations (see also Passenger punctuality). As a result, the scheduled rush-hour capacity was not always achieved and a relatively high number of passengers had to stand at peak times.

During the long-term stoppage of train traffic between The Hague and Leiden, and during the major works around Gouda (July) and Rotterdam (October/November), the high-speed line often served as a logical and quick alternative route for many passengers. However, the HSL had very little extra capacity for this, as train frequencies on the line had already reached their maximum. This often led to reduced seat availability.

The new ICNG trains to replace the old Traxx trains started to arrive in 2023. The transition did not go as planned: the arrival of several ICNG trainsets fell behind schedule, while some of the old ICR trains were reaching the end of their useful life. As a result, single ICNG trainsets with five or eight carriages were regularly used in the autumn to replace the old Traxx trains, when double ICNG trainsets of ten or thirteen carriages were actually needed to cope with the volume.

Number of crowded peak-hour trains per working week

This indicator measures the number of trains occupied above the ‘full’ standard. This means that all regular seats are occupied and four passengers per square metre are standing in the vestibules. When passenger demand and train availability are well matched in terms of scheduling and execution, there are few ‘crowded trains’, if any. In 2023, the average number of crowded peak-hour trains per working week was 94.

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