Dutch Railways (NS) saw its profits hit by higher staffing costs and track access charges in 2016 despite recording an increase in turnover and passenger numbers.
The national rail operator reported on February 28 that its turnover rose by 2.4 per cent last year to €5.1 billion thanks to a strong international performance and a number of one-off items.
However, the company’s underlying profit fell by €89 million to €145 million. NS blamed a combination of higher staffing costs and rising track access charges. NS’s international arm, Abellio, was also impacted by the weakening of the British pound since Brexit.
Overall NS met 10 of 12 performance targets set by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. One particular area of concern was its punctuality and capacity performance on the HSL-Zuid high-speed line. NS had hoped to achieve capacity of 97.5 per cent but only managed to offer 87.6 per cent in 2016.
Punctuality across the network increased slightly in 2016, up by 0.3 per cent to 93.3 per cent, but was still below the 95 per cent target. Passenger experience also improved, with satisfaction increasing from 74 per cent to 77 per cent.
NS pointed out that it invested €791 million in its services in 2016, procuring new trains and modernising older rolling stock.
The annual results also included figures relating to violence towards railway employees. Although the number of reported incidents increased from 642 to 690, there were actually fewer reported injuries, down from 211 in 2015 to 188.