NETHERLANDS Railways’ (NS) passenger numbers in 2021 were only 48% of the total carried in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.

On average, NS carried 611,000 passengers per day, down from 1.3 million in 2019. NS says tougher restrictions at the start and end of 2021 kept people at home and made them avoid public transport. Passenger volumes recovered strongly when restrictions were reduced or removed, and even more when schools and universities reopened. However, ridership decreased again from October and as a national lockdown was instituted in December in response to the rise of the Omicron variant.

“Again it was a difficult year in which we had to deal with the effects of Covid-19,” says Ms Marjan Rintel, NS CEO. “The passenger numbers show this clearly. During the lifting and reduction of restrictions in summer, we have seen that people want to travel by train again. We will keep on being optimistic for the new year, in which we hope to welcome again many people in our trains.”


NS reports that 94.4% of passengers travelling on the core network arrived at their destination on time, up from 93.5% in 2020. During peak periods, 99.5% of passengers had a seat, up from 98.1% in 2020. This is despite NS withdrawing the DDZ double-deck trains from service due to technical problems. These trains began returning to traffic during December.

On the HSL-South punctuality was 89.2%, up from 85.2% in 2020, and 99.7% of passengers were able to use a seat, compared 98.1% in 2020.

Comparison passenger percentage 2021 to 2019 per month