DB 2019: Long distance patronage over 150 million for the first time • DB Regio achieves successful turnaround • Investment program expanded, with a focus on DB's rail infrastructure
Increase in revenues • Decrease in profits • DB CEO Richard Lutz: "Investment in the future of rail will take priority in the coming years, which will be visible in our bottom line" • Impact of the coronavirus crisis not yet clear
With some 151 million long distance passengers, Deutsche Bahn (DB) has set a new passenger record, exceeding the 150 million mark for the first time. Following an already strong previous year, an additional 2.8 million passengers (an increase of 1.9%) used DB's ICE and IC trains in 2019. It was the fifth consecutive year in which patronage increased. The DB Group's adjusted revenues rose to EUR 44.4 billion in 2019, an increase of just under 1%. DB expanded the largest investment program in its history, investing substantially in the rail network, stations and trains. Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) fell by 13% year on year to EUR 1.8 billion as a result of this high level of investment in the future of rail.
"DB's aim is to substantially increase the performance of rail in Germany," said DB CEO Dr. Richard Lutz with regard to the balance sheet for the 2019 fiscal year. "Investment in the future of rail will take priority in the coming years, which will be visible in our bottom line in the medium term."
Positive patronage figures confirmed that DB had chosen the right course with its Strong Rail strategy. In addition to long distance rail patronage, regional rail patronage in Germany also rose in 2019, climbing 1.6% to almost two billion. "We are seeing clear signs of a modal shift towards rail, an environmentally friendly mode of transport," said Lutz.
Total rail passenger transport volume rose by 695 million passenger kilometers year on year in 2019, to a total of 98.4 billion. DB Regio increased its net order book again for the first time in 2019, winning more train kilometers for future service than it lost to competitors.
Volume produced on the rail network increased again in 2019, with demand up 0.4% to 1.09 billion train path kilometers. The percentage attributable to non-DB operators rose to 33.8% (2018: 32.2%).
Net capital expenditure rose considerably in 2019, increasing by 41% year on year to EUR 5.6 billion. That was a new record, though a change in accounting methods meant that it was only comparable to the previous year's figures to a limited extent. Gross capital expenditure also rose, with a focus on infrastructure. As before, the lion's share of the funds will be used to expand and modernize the German rail system, boosting quality and reliability and adding new trains and additional staff.
At EUR 24.2 billion, net financial debt was slightly better than expected and remained below the debt limit agreed with the German government.
"Our task," said Dr. Levin Holle, DB's Chief Financial Officer, "is to continue to ensure DB's financial stability despite a very high level of investment and additional challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic." What exactly the negative economic impact of the global coronavirus crisis will be is still unclear.
Logistics and freight transport
With an EBIT of EUR 538 million, DB Schenker achieved record results in 2019 for the third year in a row. With the exception of air freight, which saw declines throughout the industry, all business sectors showed improved figures last year. DB Arriva, DB's European local transport subsidiary, faced a highly competitive environment in 2019, with EBIT falling slightly year on year.
DB Cargo's transport volume fell by 3.7% year on year. Because demand in cyclical sectors such as steel and automotive is declining, it is likely that sustained growth in rail freight transport will still take some time despite all efforts.