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War and mergers

When the First World War (1914-1918) broke out in 1914, railways all over Europe turned out to be of huge economic and military significance.


From 1917 to 1960

During the First World War, railways took on a national significance. The importance of cooperation also grew, particularly with regards to national timetables. From 1917, the SS and the HSM started to work together as an interest group with the name Nederlandsche Spoorwegen, abbreviated as: NS. Both companies remained independent and continued to do their own work.

New developments

In the period between the two world wars, the internal combustion engine was gaining ground. Cars and buses were becoming increasingly popular, and the bus in particular proved to be a formidable competitor. The train lost its monopoly on mass transit. However, the development of the train was by no means stagnant. As early as 1908, the first electric train was introduced on the Hofplein between Rotterdam and Scheveningen. Other newcomers followed: the diesel locomotive and the aerodynamic trains so characteristic in the Netherlands. NS is especially interested in whether or not good quality trains are really being built.

Mergers and war

In 1937 the HIJSM and the SS merged to form NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), an independent company whose shares were state-owned from 1 January 1938. Then the Second World War broke out, ushering in a turbulent and much discussed period in history, during which activities, for better or for worse, eventually led to the railway strikes of September 1944. But it was also a period of great sacrifice, with dire consequences for the rail network. On 5 May 1945, more than 60% of the routes were inoperable and 220 railway bridges had been destroyed. Many trains had disappeared or been damaged. On 5 May 1995 (50 years after the war) the NS employee magazine 'de Koppeling' published a special supplement entitled: 'Rijden of staken?' (Drive or strike?), detailing the period from 1939 to 1947. You can download this supplement below.

The Marshall Plan

After the war NS began to rebuild with the help of the American Marshall Plan. At the same time, the railway network was being increasingly electrified. The Netherlands was the forerunner in Europe in this respect, and all over the country electric trains were running at speeds of 130 kilometres per hour. In 1958, the last steam locomotive was moved to The Railway Museum in Utrecht.