The number of satisfied passengers has increased, with 84% of passengers judging the NS performance as adequate or higher, compared with 78% in 2017. Passenger train punctuality rose from 91.4% in 2017 to 93.1%, while the chance of getting a seat during peak hours has risen from 95.5%, up from 95.2%. The introduction of a high-frequency inter-city service between Amsterdam - Utrecht - Eindhoven with a train every 10 minutes appears to have had a positive influence, while NS is preparing the introduction of the new CAF-built SNG Sprinter trains which is envisaged for mid-December.

NS reports a strong increase of passengers on the northern part of the HSL-South high-speed line HSL-Zuid, which runs between Amsterdam Schiphol airport and Rotterdam. Passenger numbers increased by 19%, with higher demand decreasing the chance for a seat from 96.9% to 94.9%. From December, there will be a fifth IC Direct train operating on the line.

NS operates its train services on the core network based on a concession granted by the Minister of Infrastructure, which gives the operator exclusive access but also contains the obligation to operate and meet set requirements, which NS says its performance is exceeding. Due to major problems with operations on both the core network and HSL-South, NS has come under pressure from the Dutch government. Following a mid-term evaluation of the present 10-year concession by the Dutch Parliament in 2019, the government will decide whether to allow other operators access to the core network.

Abellio UK and Germany

Revenues from NS subsidiary Abellio UK rose to €1.1bn in the first half of 2018, compared with €831m in the same period last year. The positive development is caused mainly by growth in the new West Midlands franchise, as well as growth in its existing British franchises. However, NS says it is uncertain about the impact of Brexit on the company’s future results.

The West Anglia franchise had a negative influence on the NS financial results in the first half 2018. Special items regarding a calculation mechanism for the franchise created a negative impact of €19m.

Revenue from Abellio German units reached €168m, up from €117m in 2017. The growth is mainly attributed to consolidation of regional passenger operator Westfalenbahn, which operates in the German states of North Rhien-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. Abellio became 100% owner of Westfalenbahn in December 2017.

NS Group turnover in the first half of 2018 increased by €342m to €2.8bn, including revenus from from:

  • Dutch passenger and station activities: €1.5bn (up €41m)
  • Abellio: €1.3bn (up €400m)
  • QBuzz: €0 (down from €99; sold off in 2017)

NS reported a first-half net profit of €6m, compared with a net loss of €14m in the same period of 2017.

NS CEO, Mr Roger van Boxtel, is pleased by the positive developments and results, and says he wants to keep the focus on maintaining performance. However, he warns that the Dutch rail network is close to capacity which will prevent further developments. Van Boxtel says further growth will increase the risk for delays and disruption and measures are necessary to maintain a well performing rail system.