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Railway safety

The number of SPADs was 58 in 2019 (2018: 61). Of these, 38 took place within the Remote-Controlled Area (CBG) (2018: 47). In 8 cases this involved a train reaching a 'danger point', such as a switch (2018: 9 cases). NS strives to achieve zero SPADs on the main rail network and is taking several measures to achieve that, such as introducing ORBIT and imposing a stricter braking criterion. Additionally, NS is engaged in discussions with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management on the introduction of Eurobalises combined with an on-board STM box with extra functionality in connection with the roll-out of ERTMS.

Five-year trend in SPADs within Remote-Controlled Area

Technical and organisational measures

NS is committed to further reducing the number of SPADs and mitigating risks on the railways. To that end we take a variety of technical measures, such as ORBIT (see below) and imposing a stricter braking criterion, as well as organisational and behavioural measures based on incident-oriented and thematic studies.
In 2019, we finalised the study into the impact of innovations in the driver's cabin on work load and attention span. Eyetracking and simulation studies found no proof that the use of equipment in the driver's cabin, including tablets, results in distraction of or an unduly heavy workload for the driver. The equipment was found to be applied to the drivers' satisfaction.


ORBIT, the system that warns drivers when they are approaching a red signal too fast, can prevent SPADs. Data from ORBIT also gives insight into high-risk situations and developments so that we can take measures to prevent an incident taking place. In 2018 and 2019, NS installed the ORBIT system on VIRM, ICM, SGM, DDZ and SLT type trains; FLIRT and SNF will follow suit in 2020. An initial analysis appears to show that ORBIT has a positive effect on the ability to prevent SPADs. We will conduct a further effectiveness analysis in 2020.

Braking criterion  

In 2017, NS decided in principle to impose a stricter braking criterion (technically enforcing more powerful braking when approaching a red signal) in IC rolling stock, starting with VIRM trains. NS also decided to impose a more stringent criterion for DDZ and ICM. We started implementing these decisions in 2019. According to current insights, the entire VIRM fleet will be subject to the stricter braking criterion in 2021.

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