KPMG: Measuring True Value of railways

Since 2014, Dutch Railway operator ‘NS’ has calculated the positive and negative impacts of its operations on society in monetary terms and has published the results in their annual report.

NS started working with KPMG on True Value to get a better understanding of their societal impact, and to publicly contribute to in the development of impact assessments.

Over the past years, the scope and use of the True Value assessments of NS have developed to applications of True Value in decision making and in-depth analysis on their most significant topics, such as travel time, mobility, safety and the environment. 

Natural Capital Protocol used
  • No, but aligns with the Protocol’s framework
Impact drivers assessed
  • Disturbances e.g. decibels and duration of noise/light
  • GHG emissions e.g. volume of CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6, HFCs and PFCs etc.
  • Impact on biodiversity e.g. impact on species, ecosystems, habitats or genetic diversity
  • Non-GHG air pollutants e.g. PM2.5, PM10, VOCs, NO, NO2, SO2, CO, etc.
  • Solid waste e.g. volume of waste by classification, materials constituents or disposal method
  • Water use e.g. volume of ground- or surface water consumed
Organizational Focus
  • Corporate
  • Project
Valuation Type
  • Monetary
  • Value to business
  • Value to society
Geographical Scope
Value Chain Boundary
  • Direct operations
  • Upstream
  • Downstream
  • Services

Key findings

The analysis of its natural capital has convinced NS to switch to 100% wind energy to power its trains, to reduce the societal impact of the electricity used.

This reduced NS’ environmental impact significantly (42%) by  €55 million.

However, the most material topics for NS are travel time and mobility.

Therefore, NS has also focused on reducing the negative impact caused by delays, transfers and the time spent to get to and from the railway station.

For example, NS invested in better bike storage facilities and refurbished bikes to make the door-to-door journey faster and easier.

The company also uses social and natural capital assessments for operational decisions, such as a social impact analysis for three alternatives of future rail transport in, to and from the province Zealand.