The NS management board took the position that the railway company could only stage any sort of protest against the Germans if ordered to do so by the Dutch government in London. Until such time, all employees were required to strictly abide by the agreement with the Germans. The conscientious attitude of the employees probably explains why only a few resistance groups emerged within the railway company. One of those groups was led by Jacob Jan Hamelink, who was employed at the Central Workshop in Haarlem. In 1941, he encouraged his colleagues to join the February Strike, in protest against the increasingly harsh measures that were being taken against Jewish citizens. In addition, some NS employees put up resistance on their own initiative, and on a small scale, for example by delaying transports commissioned by the Germans, forging train tickets for resistance fighters or distributing illegal newspapers by rail. In 1943, much to the chagrin of the NS management board, a portion of the company's employees downed tools in protest against he renewed POW status for Dutch soldiers.

Individual resistance

While by far the majority of NS employees conscientiously performed their tasks, some individuals did make an effort to obstruct services provided to the Germans. For example, they would cause equipment to ‘disappear’ or throw sand in the axle-boxes of a locomotive to prevent it from moving on. To the Germans, irregularities of this type constituted acts of sabotage and they urged NS to take tough measures. NS obeyed, and distributed a range of posters and official instructions to inform employees that any form of subversion to hinder the Germans was strictly prohibited. Even so, individual railway employees made an effort to transport illegal newspapers or resistance fighters by train, or arrange jobs for people who would otherwise be arrested or sent on forced labour.

Organised resistance at the railways

Some NS employees joined organised resistance groups. One of them was Jacob Jan Hamelink, a welder who worked at the Central Workshop in Haarlem. He felt he could not continue executing orders by the Germans as a matter of principle, and decided to resign in 1941. He was betrayed during a meeting of resistance fighters in Rotterdam on 18 October 1942, and subsequently killed. That fate also befell engine driver Jo Lokerman, who was a member of a resistance group in Maastricht and had played an important role in providing assistance to Jews who had gone into hiding. He too was betrayed and arrested, and died at the Neuengamme concentration camp. At the same time, small groups arose within NS of people who, in all secrecy, gathered information about German military transports and forwarded it to resistance groups that maintained contacts with the Allied forces.

Resistance in the boardroom

The NS management board took the position that the railway company could only stage any sort of protest against the Germans if ordered to do so by the Dutch government in London. The idea was that any other resistance would only result in reprisals by the Germans. This attitude explains why, in 1941, NS did not join the February Strike against the increasingly harsh measures against the Jews. Similarly, the NS management felt it could not participate in the nationwide strike that was called in late April 1943 in protest at he resumed POW status of Dutch soldiers. After the war, however, Head of Operations and contact person of NS for the Germans, Gustav Giesberger, stated that he had maintained secret contacts with the resistance movement since 1941 and had forwarded information about military transports to the Allied forces.

Assaults on the railways

From 1942, the railways increasingly became the targets of sabotage by a range of resistance groups all over the country. Bridges were blown up, and railways were sabotaged to obstruct military transports. In response, the Germans demanded that NS establish a Railway Guard Corps tasked with inspecting the main railway connections for any irregularities. The sabotage campaigns by Dutch resistance groups further intensified once the Allied forces had invaded Normandy on 6 June 1944, and continued during the railway strike, when the only trains that were still running were German trains carrying German personnel. The Germans responded by taking increasingly brutal reprisals.