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Our strategy

Our product and the associated achievements are built on foundations incorporating over 180 years of knowledge and experience. Over the past few years, we have made considerable steps forward with all our NS colleagues and our external partners and stakeholders. Our passengers recognise and appreciate that.

We launched our 'Spoorslags Beter' ('On Track for Improvement') strategy for 2014-2019 to focus on what is needed to further improve the passenger experience. Over the past years, our performance on the main rail network has improved and we have met all performance agreements made with the government. Punctuality for passengers has increased, and they have a better chance of finding a seat at peak times compared with the situation at the start of 'On Track for Improvement'. More trains are running, including Intercity trains every ten minutes between Amsterdam and Eindhoven, the Intercity Brussels on HSL South and the Eurostar to London. The good results translate into higher customer satisfaction. To achieve all this, over the past five years, as part of 'On Track for Improvement' we have invested in new trains and upgrading trains, better journey information, a sharper focus on operational processes, new methods of payment and further improvements to stations. We have already made several considerable steps forward, and now the time has come for the next one.
Mobility growth looks set to continue, and it is crucial for us to keep facilitating that. Over the coming years, our financial result will need to improve so that we can realise and finance our plans for the future.
We are continuing the course that we launched under 'On Track for Improvement' in our renewed strategy: 'Keeping the Netherlands accessible in a sustainable manner - for everyone.’ However, the moment has come for us to take the next leap. The renewed strategy is designed to help solve wide-ranging mobility issues and tackle several major challenges the Netherlands is facing. It also shows what is needed to realise our ambitions, first of all at NS itself.
Based on the shared vision that we formulated in 2018, in 2019 we determined the strategic choices for NS for the 2020-2025 period and decided how we are going to realise our ambitions. The renewed NS strategy for 2020-2025 has been formulated in close consultation with NS's Central Works Council (COR). The COR and NS remain in disagreement however on a single point. The COR recommends that the company provide job security throughout the period covered by the strategy and has asked the Netherlands Enterprise Court to render a verdict on this issue.
In addition, NS has sought support for its strategy from our shareholder and the franchise authority. Our shareholder has since issued a letter expressing its positive opinion.

The mission and vision for the future for NS

To ensure that the Netherlands remains sustainably accessible, over the past two years we put major efforts into finding connections within NS and beyond in order to shape our new vision and renewed strategy for the future. Every new vision stands on the shoulders of its predecessors; that also applies to NS. This enables us to ensure continuity, while also allowing us to keep moving with the times.
‘Keeping the Netherlands accessible in a sustainable manner – for everyone.’ That is our mission. Especially because the transport system is going to be even more crowded in future, with people wanting to travel more and wanting their journeys to be greener. In addition, we are proactively working to contribute to the economic and spatial development of the Netherlands. We have a clear aim: to be delivering world-class mobility by 2025. Always close by, always affordable and always sustainable.
To keep the Netherlands accessible in the future, we have set our sights on a broader concept of mobility: we are looking beyond rail and at better connections with other modalities. The focal point for this is the ever-changing wishes of the various groups of passengers. Passengers in different parts of the country: urban regions, rural regions and border areas. Passengers who will increasingly require digital as well as physical improvements. We play an active part in the development and implementation of mobility solutions in an integrated network.

Our vision

Our vision was born from the wish to offer solutions for the transport challenges that the Netherlands is facing. That vision for the future of NS and for our role in the Dutch mobility sector was conceived in part on the basis of a broad dialogue, and serves as the foundation of our strategy. Travelling where and whenever you wish, in a manner that suits you best and with maximum comfort – we want this to be a reality for every person in the Netherlands. So our mission is also to serve all of the Netherlands: the Randstad, every other region and connections to other countries. The train alone cannot deliver that degree of mobility, so we also aspire to be involved in other modes of transport used by our passengers, including the 'first and last mile', covering the entire door-to-door journey.
What we aim to offer all passengers is optimised accessibility – including for passengers with a disability and for the next generation. This is why we operate as sustainably as possible. We sense and gladly accept our social responsibility to contribute to the economic and spatial development of the Netherlands.
To achieve all that, we need our partners; collaboration is the key to success. So we are joining forces with ProRail, our franchising authority, our stakeholders, other carriers and partners. Internally we also operate as a single, united NS. All colleagues cooperate effectively both within and among the various business units, covering the entire internal chain.

We and our partners deliver world-class mobility with a sense of responsibility towards our local environment

The key pillars of our success:

Always nearby

We provide the fastest and smoothest connections to, from and within the Netherlands for all passengers, demand-driven and flexible, with the stations serving as vibrant hubs in the network. We serve regional, domestic and international passengers alike. We also focus on the 'first and last mile' of the door-to-door journey, offering a multi-modal range of services through the best mobility app in the Netherlands that always provides the ideal solution.

Always affordable

Our passengers are satisfied with the price-quality ratio of travelling with NS. The way we run our business results in cost-efficient and attractive operations.

Always sustainable

NS is an engine of urban and economic development. As leaders in sustainable mobility, we willingly take on responsibility for facilitating and realising it in cooperation with partners.

Strategic priorities for 2020-2024 and beyond

Our intention is to ensure that our passengers remain as happy with our performance as they are now. In recent years, our performance scores on the most important indicators have confirmed that we are on the right track. The economy is doing well, the number of public transport passengers is growing, urbanisation is gathering momentum and it is getting busier and busier on the country's roads and railways. We are also seeing more and more work on the railway system to ensure that it remains available at full capacity. Due to this combination of growing passenger volumes (especially at peak hours) and limited availability of infrastructure, we are facing a particularly tough challenge in the period ahead. At the same time we are transitioning towards a 100% sustainable, demand-driven and multi-modal public transport and mobility network. To complete that transition, we need to embrace the developments that are taking place in our environment, in terms of technical progress, the digital mindset of our colleagues and new technologies. It is imperative that we act now if we are to accommodate the growth in public transport passengers in the years up to 2040 and improve railway capacity utilisation.
Our range of services centres around a strong and resilient network in the Netherlands: one in which the stations are firmly integrated into the railway network, and a network that both follows and influences the development of spatial planning in this country. Rail travel is and will remain the backbone of our operations, but we are also consciously looking ahead. After all, passengers have to make the full door-to-door journey and arrange all the various stages: planning and booking the trip, travelling to the station, changing trains at another station, travelling on the train, moving on to their final destination – and finding alternatives when the train is not a suitable option.
By linking all these stages in a seamless chain, we can give every individual passenger a convenient and comfortable experience, offering multiple options and solutions. A person from Eindhoven may have different travel needs than somebody from, say, Bovenkarspel. In the Randstad conurbation there is a need for many and frequent transport services, including direct intercity connections and custom transport options outside the cities. NS is able and willing to provide those connections and combat the current fragmentation of transport facilities. Indeed, the best solution requires that we approach the entire Dutch network as a single entity. In doing so, we join forces with other parties so as to be able to provide the best options for our passengers across the country. This will eventually ensure smooth and seamless travel between the international, national, urban and regional domains.
We are also introducing concrete improvements for passengers, such as water and toilets at the stations and further development of the NS App, building on the 'On Track for Improvement' strategy.
The implementation of other strategic priorities, such as custom services in regional transport, begins with listening to the responsible authorities and registering their needs and wishes, and setting to work with our partners.
Some of those strategic priorities concern our objectives for the medium and longer term, which is the time frame, for instance, for many of the envisaged developments on the rail network. While we will also make improvements, where possible, to our timetable for passengers next year, our strategy focuses rather on clearly defining the improvements to our service range for the period beyond 2025 and on formulating the preconditions required for that, such as increasing the capacity of the available infrastructure and the deployment of new trains. For extensive information about the course of NS over the coming years, visit

Strategy scope

This strategy focuses on NS's ambitions in the Netherlands, in detailed plans for the period up to 2025 and in outline for the subsequent period. Abellio was originally founded to help NS in preparation for deregulation of the European railway market and achieve its objectives in the Netherlands. Abellio's strategy was founded on three central pillars: earn, learn and prepare, while maintaining a proper balance between risk and results. Dutch passengers should eventually be able to benefit from our operations abroad. Abellio's strategic priority is to generate solid and sustainable financial results and provide reliable services for our passengers. We do so through a diversified portfolio to ensure effective risk control and keep investments at an acceptable level, as agreed with our shareholder, the Dutch Ministry of Finance.

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