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Notes to the material themes

Compared with 2019, the themes in NS's material relevance matrix for 2020 are rather more evenly distributed and less clustered. As a result, it is now easier to see which themes for 2020 have the most and which have the least material relevance for NS. We emphasise, however, that given our broad social role, NS is fully aware that all of these 17 topics are important.

We differentiate the extent to which we report on our performance on the 17 material topics. We report on objectives and results for all high-relevance topics (1-12). As in previous years, for the five least relevant topics (13-17) as a minimum we provide notes on our activities on the subject concerned. Compared with previous years, in particular the themes of Operational performance (1), Door-to-door journey (2), Travelling and working in safety (4) and International connections (5) have risen in the priority ranking. The higher ranking of the first two themes is attributable to NS's increasing commitment to these themes as part of its efforts to maintain the appeal of rail transport. The higher ranking for Travelling and working in safety however is probably due to an external development: the impact of COVID-19 on our passengers and employees. This has probably made people more aware of the importance of a safe environment. The higher ranking for International connections can be associated with the public debate on climate change and the growing interest in trains as a sustainable alternative to air travel. One theme that has dropped in the ranking, in particular, is Integrity & compliance (14), which can be explained by the fact that no incidents have occurred that NS could have prevented.

We use our results in the annual evaluation of our management approach of the various material topics. For Operational performance (1), Door-to-door journey (2) and Customer satisfaction (3), for example, we use the KPIs from the 2020 Rail Transport Franchise. For the other material topics we use our own performance indicators. We report on any adjustments to our management approach that result from the evaluation.

Definitions of the materially relevant themes


Topics in 2020



Operational performance

The extent to which NS is committed to achieving operational performance agreements on the Main Rail Network and HSL South, such as punctuality and seat availability.


Door-to-door journey

The extent to which NS facilitates customised door-to-door travel for all public transport passengers in all regions of the Netherlands. Using our own physical and digital services where possible but also by using other providers.


Customer satisfaction

The extent to which NS meets the core needs of travellers with respect to their travel experience.


Travelling and working in safety

The extent to which NS is committed to safety for passengers, employees and colleagues of partners.


International connections

The extent to which NS works with partners to provide faster international connections in order to offer an attractive alternative to short-haul flights and the car.


Contribution to Dutch Climate Agreement

The extent to which NS is committed to making mobility more sustainable, by reducing energy use and CO2 emissions and making circular use of resources and materials.


Collaborating with stakeholders

The extent to which NS works reliably, openly and accessibly with (inter)national and regional stakeholders to shape mobility in the Netherlands.


World-class stations

The extent to which NS is committed to working with our partners in the region to provide world-class stations by creating functional and valued hubs for mobility and quality of life in their environments.



The extent to which NS continues to innovate in order to optimise our services, the quality of our products and efficient operations, and thus the satisfaction of passengers with their journeys, now and in the future.


Designing and sharing knowledge on mobility

The extent to which NS is actively taking the lead in shaping future and sustainable mobility in the Netherlands and sharing knowledge with the sector.



The extent to which NS is committed to seamless travel in order to make its products and services available and accessible to all.


Financial performance

The extent to which NS is able to achieve a financial return now and in the future so that it can continue to invest in improving its services.


Attractive and inclusive employer

The extent to which NS can offer its employees an attractive (terms of employment, rewards, development) and inclusive (open and safe, diversity, equality) working environment where everyone can be themselves.


Integrity & compliance

The extent to which NS is committed to sustainable assurance of integrity, desired behaviour and compliance.


Responsible procurement

The extent to which NS takes responsibility for making products and services more sustainable and innovative through active procurement policies, including a focus on social entrepreneurship, innovation, energy consumption and circularity.


Risk management

The extent to which NS is able to consciously deal with uncertainties that may have a negative impact on the realisation of its strategic objectives.


Abellio franchises

The extent to which NS achieves sustainable financial returns, learns from its experiences abroad and allows Dutch passengers to benefit from its presence abroad.

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