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DB plans to return to high profits in 2022. The goal is sales of EUR 48 billion

DB plans to return to high profits in 2022. The goal is sales of EUR 48 billion
photo: DB press materials/DB plans to return to high profits in 2022. The goal is sales of EUR 48 billion
04 / 04 / 2022

Deutsche Bahn (DB)'s double-digit percentage revenue growth in fiscal 2021, surpassing its 2019 figures, indicates that the company is returning to profitable operations. Previously, the company incurred a two-year loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting in 2022, DB intends to return to operating profit.

In 2021, even though DB group revenues increased 18.4% to EUR 47.3 billion, they ended the fiscal year with a loss of EUR 1.6 billion. By comparison, in 2020, the figure was EUR -2.9 billion. The biggest progress is seen in net income, which amounted to EUR -900 million, an increase of almost EUR 5 billion compared to 2020. In addition, long-distance trains were in much higher demand in 2021 than in 2020.

Despite the losses, even in a difficult financial period, DB continued to invest and even increased the percentage of investment in moving more traffic to rail, better customer services, and products, arguing that rails are needed now more than ever.

"People want to travel by rail. Companies want to shift more traffic to rail. And policymakers want to continue supporting this shift," said Dr. Richard Lutz, DB's CEO, in Berlin. The events of the covid pandemic have shaped DB's development strategy, which Lutz described as a "Strong Railroads" strategy. This strategy exists not only in words but also in deeds. DB's long-distance trains have carried about 82 million passengers (81 million in 2020, including the two pre-pandemic months). Today, DB has already carried more passengers and freight than during the same period in 2021.

Demand has increased not only for passengers but also for freight. In 2021, the company increased freight transported by 6.3 % and freight sold by 7.9 %. The production volume on the railway network amounted to 1.1 billion kilometers of the track (an increase of 4%).

Nevertheless, the decrease in punctuality indicators in passenger traffic is worth noting. Now, this indicator is 93.8% (decreased by 1.4%). Long-distance trains have this indicator at 75.2% (in 2020, the indicator was 81.8%). It is due to the irregular events related to strikes by German GDL train drivers and catastrophic flooding.

DB also increased its capital expenditures again. In 2021, gross capital expenditures set a new record and amounted to about EUR 15.4 billion, while net capital expenditures rose to about EUR 6.3 billion. About 95% of gross capital expenditures were invested in rail transport, DB's core business. Net financial debt on December 31, 2021, was EUR 29.1 billion, slightly lower than in 2020.

In 2021, despite uncertain times, the operations of the subsidiaries were stable. DB Regional's portfolio of orders for regional and local services was about EUR 93.6 billion, even higher than before the pandemic. DB Arriva, the DB Group's local transport operator in Europe, carried almost 11% more passengers and significantly reduced operating losses. DB Schenker, a logistics company, has been a tremendous success and has ensured supply chain stability worldwide while providing biofuel-powered transportation. "Now facing its 150th anniversary as a company, Schenker has delivered excellent results: record revenues of over EUR 23 billion for 2021, record profits, and a pioneering strategy that DB Schenker will use to further improve its competitive position," said Dr. Levin Holle, DB's CFO.

Among other things, it is worth noting that DB has provided significant assistance since Russia's military invasion of Ukraine in the form of "rail bridge" cargo deliveries to Ukraine and special trains, extra buses, and free tickets for refugees. "At Deutsche Bahn, we stand for a free, peaceful, and democratic Europe," Lutz said.

Overall, DB will have to cope with two major challenges in the coming years: a lack of capacity on the rail network and an increase in construction will remain. "We have to build and upgrade our infrastructure to offer more rail services," said CEO Lutz. The company is investing and upgrading like never before to remove bottlenecks and expand and digitize rail infrastructure.

In 2022, DB aims to increase its revenues to more than 48 billion euros and generate operating profits.