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Sustainability at NS

From an economic and social perspective, mobility has many benefits for the Netherlands, but on the other hand it has environmental costs. Sustainable travel is important to securing the future of travel and keeping the Netherlands mobile.


With more than 1.5 million journeys made using trains and buses, and roughly the same number of visits to our stations, NS has a significant impact on Dutch society: in terms of mobility, safety, emissions and expenditures. That is why NS considers sustainability to be so important.

Our ambition is to make climate neutral travel possible by 2020. For our customers, our planet and our future.

Our priorities

NS strives towards sustainable business operations whereby its activities contribute added economic, ecological and social value to both our company and society as a whole. A mobile, accessible society contributes to a healthy and vibrant economy. In addition, travel by train is better for the environment than many other forms of transport and it also brings people together and facilitates social contact.

NS's ecological footprint is largely determined by our energy use (traction power electric trains) and the waste generated by stations, trains and our workshops. That is why we focus on:

  • Improvement of our energy efficiency and reduction of CO2- emissions. We do this by increasing occupancy levels, lowering energy use and using CO2 neutral renewable energy to power all our electric trains. By 2020, the energy used per passenger per kilometre has to have been reduced by 35% compared to 2005 levels.
  • By 2020, we also aim to re-use 75% of our waste.

Increasing occupancy

The best way to make the most efficient use of energy is to transport more people during the times that there is more space available in the trains. NS encourages people to travel during the off-peak hours by offering discount season tickets.

Reducing energy consumption

NS recognises two different types of energy consumption. Facility consumption includes energy consumption in the offices, workplaces and stations. Energy consumption for transportation includes all energy used to operate, light and heat the trains and replacement buses. NS' CO2-emissions are largely due to operating the trains (90%) with only 10% of our energy consumption resulting from facility energy use.

Since 2011, the Dutch railway sector has operated in accordance with the Long-Term Agreements (MJA3), in which the government made agreements with several sectors to strive to realise energy reductions of 2% per year. These agreements were also confirmed in the SER Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth, to which NS is also a signatory. NS has set for itself the more ambitious goal of becoming 35% more energy-efficient by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. This higher level is a conscious choice by NS.

Sustainable energy: generating green electricity

Starting in 2017, our Dutch trains will run on 100% green electricity, so travellers will have the option of truly clean travel, with no CO2-emissions. This is because in 2014 we signed a long-term contract with Eneco to supply electricity for all electric trains in the Netherlands on behalf of the rail sector. In total, NS consumes around 1.4 TWh of electricity to run the trains. To supply this electricity, Eneco will build a new windmill park. Over the next few years, NS will also take steps to implement green electricity in its buildings, buses and road vehicles.

Re-using waste

NS wants to return its waste into the cycle of raw materials in cooperation with its suppliers. Our goal is to process all of the waste that we produce at the stations, in the trains, at our sites and in our offices back into sustainable raw materials.

Our priority is to increase the opportunities for re-using and reducing our waste flows. NS has set the goal of re-using 75% of our waste by 2020. Together with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment and ProRail, NS signed the Green Waste Deal in early 2015. We will expand stations' and trains' facilities for separating waste and we will examine how to reduce waste during the purchasing process with more re-use opportunities.


The implementation of our policy and goals is the responsibility of the Sustainable Entrepreneurship team (3 fte), which is led by the Director of Sustainable Entrepreneurship. In order to support the progress towards our objectives, a Sustainable Entrepreneurship Council has been formed to prepare policy and decisions for submission to the Executive Board. The council meets four times per year and reports to the Executive Board twice per year. The Director of Commerce and Development manages the Sustainability portfolio. Other groups working on the issue include the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Work Group and several temporary task forces.

The Corporate Governance Code explicitly delegates the responsibility for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the management, and states that the Board of Commissioners is responsible for supervising the issue.

Sustainable purchasing

Every year, NS purchases more than € 1 billion worth of goods and services. As a purchasing party, NS exerts influence on suppliers to make their products and processes more sustainable. This helps to make a major contribution to our sustainability goals. Our CSR criteria are described in our purchasing governance document and anchored in the General Purchasing Conditions (www.nsprocurement.nl). We also work closely with the market and challenge it to submit innovative and sustainable offers. For example, in tenders for new trains, we require that 95% of the materials must be reusable. By including the Total Cost of Ownership in the calculation, NS makes it interesting for tendering parties to keep the energy consumption as low as possible.

Supplier assessments and Code of Conduct

Since 2014, we have conducted Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) assessments for our major suppliers: we examine how they deal with aspects such as the environment, social responsibility, ethics and supply chain sustainability. Scores make it possible to compare suppliers and to estimate risks. In 2015, the assessment was also used in the award of contracts. All of the award parties are required to conduct a CSR assessment. Together with DB, SNCF, Alstom, Bombardier and Knorr Bremse, NS is working on Railsponsible with the goal of implementing the method as the standard within the rail industry.

NS suppliers are asked to abide by our Code of Conduct, which explicitly states the conditions under which we wish to do business with our suppliers. A general requirement is that suppliers must take their responsibility in the context of CSR and to abide by the spirit of the standards in this field, as described in documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and organisations such as the ILO, OECD and ICC. NS also has an independent party check whether the suppliers abide by the Code of Conduct. In the event that a supplier does not comply or violates the code, we first assess the risk involved. We then meet with the supplier to discuss a plan for improvement. In the event of serious violations, such as corruption, we may decide to terminate the relationship. This is also included in contract templates. The exclusion criteria also apply to our suppliers' subcontractors.

Transparency and annual reports

NS also publishes reports about its sustainable business strategy. In this vein, NS has embraced the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The sustainable business results that NS publishes are reported according to this initiative. The company also demonstrates its transparency according to internationally respected norms, among other things in the fields of supply chain responsibility, stakeholder engagement and social issues.

TheAnnual Report 2017 complies with GRI Standards Core, which is audited externally. In addition, NS has been part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs' transparency benchmark for a number of years. The Annual Report 2016 was 6th place on the benchmark list.

CSR calculations

In these documents, as part of the background information related to the figures in the annual report, you can view the methods of calculation that were used.