Group report: Bad news for the railways: dilapidated network, high costs and a loss of two billion euros

High costs for construction, energy and personnel, increased interest rates and several strikes caused Deutsche Bahn to lose billions last year.

Group report: Bad news for the railways: dilapidated network, high costs and a loss of two billion euros

High costs for construction, energy and personnel, increased interest rates and several strikes caused Deutsche Bahn to lose billions last year. The bottom line is that the federally owned company recorded a loss of 2.4 billion euros in 2023, as the company announced on Thursday in Berlin. In the previous year, the deficit was significantly lower at around 0.2 billion euros. Sales fell by 13 percent to around 45.2 billion euros in the same period. And the group also made losses in the operational area. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) fell to a loss of almost one billion euros - after a positive result of around 1.2 billion euros in the previous year.

According to the company's own statements, the reason for this was that the railway made advance payments on the high investments in the infrastructure. This year the funds are to be balanced by the federal government. Then the group wants to be back in the black, at least operationally. In 2023, the railway invested around 7.6 billion euros from its own funds in the urgently needed upgrading of the infrastructure.

Congested routes and a network in need of renovation in many places resulted in high levels of unpunctuality last year. Almost every third long-distance train was delayed. The railways and the federal government therefore want to invest more than ever in the coming years to get the infrastructure fit again. However, this leads to a lot of construction activity, which is likely to continue to slow down traffic in the coming years. Demand for rail transport remained high despite the high level of unreliability. The railway recorded around 1.8 billion trips in 2023, 5.8 percent more than in the previous year.

The poor figures this year were also due to ongoing economic problems at the freight transport subsidiary DB Cargo and a cooling transport market, which was particularly felt by the otherwise well-performing logistics subsidiary DB Schenker.

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