Deutsche Bahn (DB) had a more favorable 2021 thanks to the first wave of health constraint relaxation during the spring and summer. As a result, the rail company posted double-digit revenue growth, exceeding the level achieved in 2019.

DB Group’s revenues rose 18.4 percent year-on-year to €47.3 billion in fiscal 2021. This did not prevent the railway company from still posting losses: they amounted to 1.6 billion euros before taxes, down sharply from 2020 (-2.9 billion euros in 2020). After taxes, the loss amounts to 900 million euros. DB intends to generate operating profits again this year.

For DB CEO Richard Lutz, the good news is the increase in passenger numbers on the main lines. Some 82 million passengers used DB’s long-distance trains in 2021 (up from about 81 million in 2020). In reality, this is a year-on-year increase of 30%, with 2020 including two months of normal traffic before the pandemic restrictions were triggered. As a reminder, this traffic is still 45% lower than the record year of 2019. At that time, DB carried 150.7 million passengers on its main lines. The company is targeting more than 200 million passengers in 2026.

On regional lines, DB carried 1.12 billion passengers compared to 1.9 billion in 2019. It hopes to carry more than 2 billion in 2026.

The railway company has thus continued to expand its fleet and long-distance service in 2021, including adding bi-hourly connections between Hamburg and Berlin.

Worsening punctuality

We need rail more than ever. Every person who chooses rail, and every freight train that runs, contributes to the fight against climate change,” said Richard Lutz. ” People want to travel by train. Companies want to shift more traffic to rail. And policymakers want to continue to support this shift.

All of these factors have reinforced DB’s “Strong Rail” strategy, Lutz said. And the positive trend continues: DB carried more passengers and freight in early 2022 than in the same period last year.

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One shadow was a sharp deterioration in punctuality. Passenger services recorded an on-time performance of 93.8%, a decrease of 1.4 points. Mainline trains performed even worse. Their on-time performance fell to 75.2% from 81.8% in 2020. Irregular events such as catastrophic flooding and strikes contributed to this poor performance.

Massive investments in the network

This year, punctuality is likely to be affected by the countless construction projects to modernize the network. DB will invest 13.6 billion euros this year in the construction of its new rail network.12.8 billion in 2021.

The lack of capacity in the rail network and the increase in construction will remain the biggest challenges in the years to come.

The past year has shown us that demand has grown faster than the capacity of our infrastructure. But to create more capacity, we must first build because you can’t have one without the other. That’s why we continue to invest in our network at record levels. This is essential if we are to decarbonize the transportation sector. We need to build and modernize our infrastructure to offer more rail services and contribute to the fight against climate change,” the CEO said.