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Environmental impact: emissions, land use, waste, water and noise

Our negative environmental impact results, among other things, from the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels cause air pollution due to emissions of substances such as CO2, SO2, NOx and particulate matter. This has a negative impact on climate, nature and health and generates social costs. The use of 100% green power for our trains and buildings has considerably reduced our negative impact over the past few years, even by more than 50% compared with 2014. Land use, waste, water consumption and noise nuisance also have negative environmental impacts.

This negative environmental impact was €53 million in 2020 (2019: €76 million), of which approximately €7 million as a direct consequence of NS operations and approximately €46 million in the transport sector as a whole including the first and last mile, the building of trains, plus electricity and infrastructure. The decrease compared with 2019 was caused by the fall in the number of journeys made and the resulting drop in the consumption of resources for the first and last mile.
Compared with the use of cars, travelling by train has a positive environmental impact. Travelling by train avoids a certain amount of the impact of air pollution because pollution produced by trains – including public transport bicycles – is low compared to car journeys and alternatives for the first and last mile. The positive impact of train travel on noise and land use compared with cars consists in the roads and the noise abatement measures that are not required because passengers are opting for the train. The positive environmental impact compared with car use was only calculated for ‘elective passengers’, i.e. those who are willing and able to make a choice between the car and the train.

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