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CER: Financial losses on the railway due to COVID-19 pandemic

CER: Financial losses on the railway due to COVID-19 pandemic
photo: Archives/Railway
13 / 02 / 2021

Rail transportation has seen declines in sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on information from the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the decline reached an astronomical amount of 26 billion EUR.

It should be said that the negative impact is more significant in passenger railways transport. According to available sources, it has fallen decrease in turnover reached up to 40 %. The freight transport recorded only a 12 % decrease and the loss was estimated at two billion euros. The development in the second half of 2020 made the difference even bigger. Passenger transport was hit by another decline which reached up to 50 % decrease in December. Unlike passenger transport, freight transport somewhat managed to mitigate losses.

“The COVID-19 crisis is impacting heavily on railways. However, the rail sector is showing resilience and capacity to help fight the pandemic and assist society on the road to recovery. Getting Europe’s economy back on track while continuing to bring down global emissions is a pressing dual challenge. The European Year of Rail is a timely recognition of the role railways can and should play on these fronts,” Alberto Mazzola, the CER Executive Director, said to media.

In such critical situations as the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to maintain mobility and operational functionality. On the other hand, railway companies also had to protect both their customers and employees.

The figures recorded by the CER are based on long-term monitoring and evaluation of the findings. This was done through cooperation between CER members, who collected all the data together.

The CER brings together railway undertakings, infrastructure managers and leasing companies as well as national associations. The vast majority of European railway business consists of companies and associations united in CER. If we will look at the numeric statistics, we will find that the members represent 71 % of the rail network, 76 % of rail freight and about 92 % of rail passenger transport in the EU, EFTA and acceding countries.

CER aims to further develop the railway sector. This confirms the EU's position, which wants rail transport as a sustainable resource, to be further developed and supported. The fact that rail transportation is increasing its volume is also evidenced by some surveys, for example, monitoring the RRMMS market between 2015 - 2018. As a result of this survey, rail passenger transport increased by 2.5 % per year. Freight rail transport even by 4.1 %. The modal share of rail in passenger transport increased from 7.6 % to 7.8 % over the same period. In freight, by contrast, it decreased from 18.8 % to 18.7 %.

EU wants to transform all European transportation as a whole in the medium term. The aim of the Rail Freight Forward coalition and it’s “30 to 2030 strategy” is to shift 75 % of road freight transport to railways and waterways. Furthermore, the number of high-speed railway lines is to be doubled by 2030, and it is even set to triple by 2050 compared to 2015.