Balance sheet for 2023: Bahn looks back on a turbulent year and provides an outlook

Balance sheet for 2023: Bahn looks back on a turbulent year and provides an outlook

Difficult tariff rounds, countless delays and financial imponderables: It was a wild year for Deutsche Bahn and its passengers. Things don’t get any quieter around the federally owned company.

Today, Deutsche Bahn presents its balance sheet for the past financial year and provides an outlook on upcoming projects for 2024 and the years beyond.

A solution is emerging on a particularly stressful issue, especially for passengers: For a few days now, the railway and the German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL) have been negotiating again in the collective bargaining dispute that has been going on for months.

Six industrial disputes since November have led to significant restrictions on rail transport. A few days ago, the collective bargaining parties expressed confidence that they could soon reach an agreement.

Lots of delays

In addition to the collective bargaining negotiations with the GDL and the larger railway and transport union (EVG), the past year was primarily characterized by a high level of unpunctuality for the railway and its customers. Almost every third long-distance train was delayed by at least six minutes. The reason for this is the overloaded infrastructure, which is in need of renovation in many places and can no longer keep up with the sharp increase in demand for rail in recent years.

With the announcement that it would invest around 40 billion euros in upgrading the network in the coming years, the federal government created a sense of optimism last year. The railway announced that it would use the money to fundamentally renovate dozens of busy corridors and thus ensure greater reliability again in the next few years. The Federal Constitutional Court’s budget ruling in the fall put a severe damper on the euphoria. The federal government rowed back. Around 30 billion euros are expected to flow by 2027.

More challenges

Compared to the investment amounts from previous years, that is still a lot of money. But the railway estimates the investment requirement for this period to be significantly higher at around 45 billion euros. Recently, a discussion has broken out about putting aside the construction and expansion of routes in favor of renovation.

And there are other challenges: the freight transport division is in crisis. DB Cargo boss Sigrid Nikutta wants to reorganize the company and has fallen out with works councils and the EVG union. The railway is also looking for a buyer for the logistics subsidiary DB Schenker. After years of growth, the company recently had to accept significant losses in profits. These are also likely to have an impact on the balance sheet of the entire group.

The Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv) gave the group an unsatisfactory certificate for the past year. “Deutsche Bahn’s current annual report shows a company in difficulties,” said association boss Ramona Pop. Unpunctual trains, complicated, often only digital offers and poor customer service – these are everyday experiences for many public transport passengers. “In order for Deutsche Bahn to become future-proof, customer needs must finally be taken more into account,” it said.

Source: Stern

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