Our transport consumes enormous amounts of energy. Because this energy is still often obtained from fossil sources, it is therefore good to choose the way you travel carefully. It would of course be great if everyone could walk and cycle everywhere for maximum sustainable impact, but that is not realistic. Fortunately, a lot of work is being done on all kinds of sustainable and innovative means of transport, such as electric cars and shared scooters. 

Not everyone has access to these means of transport, which are sometimes expensive or only available in the Randstad, but most people can travel by public transport. Now that we notice less of corona, it is also possible to choose this mode of transport. We therefore investigated for you what sustainability actually is at the NS. 

Traveling by train

In the Netherlands, 20% of CO2 emissions and thus air pollution come from traffic and transport . Which mode of transport puts the most burden on the environment can differ per moment and situation. It depends, for example, on the time at which you travel, the duration of your trip and the type of car or public transport. As a result, means of transport cannot simply be compared one-on-one. 

Yet we can say that you save the environment considerably by traveling by train instead of by car. This is due to a great development: traveling by train has been virtually CO2 neutral since 2017. For example, you emit about 7x less CO2 if you leave the car at home and take the train for a ride from Rotterdam to Amsterdam. You determine the exact sustainable difference between a train or car journey with the Ecopassenger calculator .  

Traveling on green electricity

In order to transport everyone, the NS uses as much annually as all households in Amsterdam . So you can imagine that a huge environmental benefit can be achieved there. Fortunately, all NS passenger trains run entirely on wind power. As a result, the impact of the carrier on the climate has been halved since 2014. Within two years, the same amount of CO2 emissions was saved as 3.3 million car trips to the south of France . It’s also a cool idea that you travel on energy from a windmill. For example, did you know that it only takes 3 turns of a windmill to make a train travel 1 kilometer? And that if one windmill turns for an hour, the train can run from Groningen to Utrecht?

If your train breaks down and you have to use replacement bus transport, you will unfortunately not be running on wind energy. HVO has been used for these buses since 2019 . This fuel consists of leftover frying fat and other industrial fats. Its production does not require any natural resources or food production.

All green energy that the trains run on comes from new wind farms of Eneco. In this way, the NS can trace exactly where their green electricity comes from. 

Save energy

The NS not only runs on green energy, they are also busy saving energy. Driving, heating/cooling and lighting the trains consumes 90% of the electricity used by the NS, so the railway company is trying to make a difference. For example, energy released during braking is returned to the overhead wire so that other trains can use it; the train is turned off if it is stationary for a long time; and the intensity of the light in the train is adjusted to the amount of daylight.

Consumption is also taken into account in the offices and at stations. For example, various buildings at and around stations are heated and cooled in a sustainable way by the NS using sustainable technology: heat and cold storage.

In winter, cold water is stored in the soil and used for cooling in summer. Conversely, hot water is stored in the summer and used for heating in the winter. This is already happening at a number of stations, including Amsterdam Central, Utrecht Central and Arnhem Central.