To continue running the trains on wind and solar energy in the coming years, NS is switching from Eneco to the Provinciale Zeeuwse Energie Maatschappij (PZEM) and Shell. Although NS will lose more, the company says it will not increase the price of a train ticket extra.
At the same time, the carrier does not rule out the possibility that a train ride will become more expensive or cheaper if something changes in the price of electricity. Last month, NS did receive permission from outgoing State Secretary for Infrastructure Heijnen to raise the price of train tickets more than usual over the next two years. The company is allowed to increase the tickets in two steps for a total of 7 percent extra because of the high inflation. NS is also considering a rush-hour surcharge.
In 2017, NS was the first national transport company in the world to switch completely to wind energy. NS says that this will drive climate neutrally. From 1 January NS will switch from Eneco to the new supplier. PZEM will supply the electricity, with Shell supplying the certificates to prove the electricity is really green.
“This guarantees that on an annual basis in Europe just as much electricity is generated via solar and wind as NS consumes for running trains,” says NS. The contract will start in 2025.
Just as much as Amsterdam
With 1.2 TWh per year, NS claims to use 1 percent of total Dutch energy consumption. It is as much as the entire city of Amsterdam uses in electricity per year. As the largest carrier, 85 percent of the electricity is consumed by NS trains. NS tries to use less power by driving energy-efficiently, for example with efficient acceleration and braking.
Board member Tjalling Smit acknowledges that the choice for Shell seems rather remarkable. “I cannot say much about Shell’s general level of sustainability. But the green certificates that we purchase from them meet all external, legal, and NS requirements. And perhaps this new collaboration will help Shell gain experience that they can then be applied elsewhere.”
NS does state that the costs for energy will be higher in the coming years than under the old energy contract. But because that price was already included in the inflation, according to NS nothing will change in the price tags. “Only if the price of energy is higher or much lower than inflation in the future, can the price of the train ticket be adjusted upwards or downwards.”
Nevertheless, the new energy contract will be concluded for only three years. According to board member Tjalling Smit, this is due to the uncertainty on the energy market due to the war in Ukraine. Because energy suppliers prefer not to conclude long-term contracts due to the uncertain times, a short-term contract has been chosen.
In the next contract, which will be concluded for after 2027, NS wants to continue to receive green electricity on days when the sun is not shining and there is no wind, and not fossil fuels, as is currently the case.
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