The Netherlands have the most densely used railway network in Europe. High frequencies and high performance and punctuality demands set high requirements for railway maintenance. The aim: maximum availability at a low price.


Prime domain(s)


Prime theme(s)
Life cycle efficiency


Additional theme(s)
Sustainability, Economics


Related showcases
None yet.


Lead partner


Second contact


Extended summary
The Netherlands have the most densely used railway network in Europe, connecting virtually all major towns and cities and totalling 7,000 kilometres. Trains run with high frequencies, with one or two trains per hour on lesser lines, two to four trains per hour on rural sections and up to 8 or 10 trains an hour in urban regions. High performance and punctuality demands set high requirements for railway maintenance. Based on the strenuous maintenance practice, the Netherlands have developed smart maintenance concepts which have evolved into export products and services that draw the attention of railway companies worldwide.


Form (description)
Heavy rail maintenance, 24/7 availability, including bridges, railway stations and technical infrastructure, facilities, equipments.


Operation (usage)
Over 3.2 million train runs are made every year, totalling 145 million passenger kilometres and 10 million freight kilometres.
Four maintenance contractors are admitted to perform railway maintenance in the Netherlands on behalf of ProRail: Strukton Rail, BAM Rail, VolkerRail and ASSET Rail under strict safety and performance requirements. They are responsible for the maintenance of the entire infrastructure system, including catenary, power supply, signalling, tracks, switches, bridges, crossings, telecommunications, winter services. The maintenance performance requirements are laid down in performance-based contracts. The maintenance contractors have high incentives to provide functional (prevantative) maintenance, thus preventing failures, maintaining safety levels and optimise life-cycle costs.


Performance (result)
Train punctuality was 83.0% for freight trains and 87,0% for passenger trains in 2014, with 94.9% on regional lines.
Performance of the railways has increased over the years at increasingly lower cost. This is mainly due to the high performance requirements, which has incited the railway industry to develop innovative solutions to prevent breakdowns.




Optimised availability of the railways is of paramount importance when the infrastructure is densely used like it is in the Netherlands. The higher the availability of the track, the higher train frequencies and train density can be without the need to construct new infrastructures. The availability of existing track can be improved considerably by applying smart maintenance based on data (generated through sensors, monitoring, measurement trains) and the targeted analysis of these data. Over the years, the Netherlands have acquired in-depth knowledge and experience in this field.
The asset management concept of Stukton is based on preventing failures, identifying problems before they occur and staying one step ahead of potential breakdowns. We control the entire asset management set, from defining customer needs to operation and feedback. We adapt to and support part of or the entire maintenance strategy of the customer by engineering what is needed. Based on experience, our approach clearly results in lower costs and better quality.





Gare du Mans (Le Mans, France), St Pancras Station (London, UK), Utrecht Centraal (Utrecht, Netherlands) Switzerland is known for its qualitative and safe railways. Some figures (from 2013):

  • Passengers carried per year: 365,9 million
  • Freight per year: 48,3 million tons
  • Length of railway network: 3175 km in standard gauge and 98 km metre gauge
  • Stations open to passengers: 792
  • Stations with freight traffic: 193
  • Customer punctuality: 87.5% of all passengers reached their destination with less than 3 minutes of delay


Foreign potentials
Heavy and light rail maintenance worldwide.


Related projects and pilots
RegioTram Utrecht (NL) asset maintenance, Sweden (daily maintenance), Italy (daily-maintenance)




Other media


Image credits
Strukton, RVDB Urban Planning


Rail maintenance