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Risk 3: HSL service


The risk that the performance delivered falls short of the agreed level due to lack of capacity, the complexity of HSL South and/or an inability to implement the measures taken. The agreement with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management about the performance on HSL South covers both operational performance and the introduction of new products.


The agreements made between the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and NS about our performance on HSL South are highly ambitious, given the complexity and limitations of the infrastructure, the shortage of rolling stock and the age of NS's existing trains. Other important risk factors include the sharp increase in passenger numbers, ambitious KPIs, the impact of extreme weather conditions (including extreme summer heat), external incidents and fragmentation of HSL-related knowledge.
In 2018, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management made €60 million available for measures aimed at improving the HSL South infrastructure in the short and medium term. Furthermore, NS and ProRail drew up a long-term vision for the HSL corridor in 2018 and presented it to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. In this vision, NS and ProRail elaborated on a series of measures aimed at making lasting improvements to the performance of HSL South and bringing performance up to a par with the main rail network. It is important that the funds made available are actually spent on measures to raise performance levels.
In the second half of 2018 and early 2019, the HSL South timetable was disrupted by a persistent software bug in the locomotives that lead to stranded trains and a fall in punctuality. Since the supplier produced a software update to eliminate the bug, in March, and further process optimisation measures were taken, performance has greatly improved. The New Generation Intercity trains will be introduced with the 2021 timetable. Their phased introduction over 2021 and preparations in 2020 may cause some initial dips in performance.


Operational performance levels remain variable. All the operational disciplines at NS are looking into this, and a change in governance has been implemented for the entire high-speed line. In addition, the improvement programme and improvement teams continue their permanent monitoring and efforts to stabilise performance at the highest possible level, taking any additional measures necessary and spurring on improvements in the operations.
The New Generation Intercity trains will be introduced with the 2021 timetable following an extensive and carefully planned implementation process that also includes training. NS will keep its current rolling stock on standby.

Risk control trend

The risk trend improved in 2019. Thanks to improved performance in the second half of 2019, following resolution of several issues (including the software bug) and process optimisation, the franchise targets have been realised. However, the KPIs are sensitive to risk factors such as future updates for rolling stock software and complicated infrastructure. From 2020 the risk looks set to increase once again, due to rising passenger numbers and potential effects from the renovation of the Watergraafsmeer shunting yard. The structural issues will require patience and NS is accordingly giving the improvement of HSL South performance its full attention.

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