How NS (Dutch Railways) realizes huge cost savings each year with VR training

Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) is the principal passenger railway operator in the Netherlands. Founded in 1938, the NS provides rail services on the Dutch main rail network, which is the third busiest in the world after Switzerland and Japan. The Learning Center is part of the HR & Recruitment department of NS and works with 35 L&D specialists.


Hundreds of train mechanics participate in an annual national training program, spread out over different maintenance centers in the Netherlands. Trainees are scheduled for two whole days and use train equipment that can't be used for regular operations during the training period. This results in a significant loss of revenue.


One of NS Learning Center’s strategic priorities is digitization of learning. Practical instructions using equipment are replaced with more flexible knowledge-oriented online offerings and remote guidance to practice critical infrequent aspects from operating procedures and maintain the desired level of professional skills.

With VR training using storytelling and 360° video, NS created a realistic and recognizable on-the-job learning environment for train mechanics and drivers, where it feels to them as if they are actually present in the train set. Trainees can use their own smartphones to learn from practical situations in varying levels of complexity.

The screenshot above is from an introduction to a new train for mechanics. They can virtually walk around the train and view maintenance and repair procedures, which takes about half an hour. Participants were very positive about the experience, with responses like "It's like being on the train." The practical instructors are also enthusiastic, as mechanics know how to find things on the train faster after the virtual introduction. NS created this VR application in a few days with just 3 people - from writing the script to putting it live. And since they can use the same scenario also for conductors and machinists, it's easy to scale.


NS currently uses VR training for practising maintenance and repair procedures. The company realizes significant cost savings, as trains can remain in operation longer than with traditional training methods. Trainers are now no longer dependent on the availability of a real train, and can, for example, virtually enter the train with a group of participants at a convenient time.

Both the training results as the experiences from trainees were succesful, and VR training is widely regarded within the company as an added value over more traditional methods like classroom training. In November 2022, one of the VR training programs was awarded with an internal IT innovation award.

NS plans to expand the use of immersive learning to train drivers and other use cases (e.g. adding recruiting and soft skills training for employees in train station shops, control rooms and security teams), and to add integrations with their LMS (SAP SuccessFactors) to make the trainings more accessible and integrate training results.

“Most L&D tools are user friendly for the learner, but terrible for the developer. Warp VR is a notable exception as a very user-friendly tool for both creators as trainees. What also stood out to me is their helpful and responsive support team.” - Peter Faulhaber, Digital Learning Advisor and Developer, NS

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