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Freight losses fail to dampen state railway profits

Andreas Meyer

Swiss Federal Railways CEO Andreas Meyer presented the company's annual figures on Tuesday at a press conference in Bern. (Keystone) - Click to enlarge

The Swiss Federal Railway’s net profit increased by CHF18 million ($19 million) to CHF399 million ($418 million) last year despite posting a loss in its troubled freight division.

The company confirmed a previous decision to cut 800 freight jobs but plans to reduce certain prices for its increasing number of customers, it announced in its annual report on Tuesday.

The Swiss have long been Europe’s ‘train champions’ – last year, 1.26 million people used the Swiss train network on a daily basis.

The increase in profit achieved in 2017 was related to better productivity and improvements in real estate, infrastructure and passenger service, announced the Railways in a press releaseexternal link published on Wednesday.

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Its ticket discount programme “RailFit20/30”, which was launched in 2016, also contributed to the positive result, the statement added. The company plans to offer even higher discounts – of up to 70% – to its customers travelling outside of peak times.

Losses in freight business

By contrast, the company’s freight business branch posted a loss of CHF239 million ($259 million) last year, compared to a profit of CHF1 million ($1.1 million) in 2016. As a result of this high loss, the Railways announced earlier this month that it will cut around 800 jobs over the coming years.

More regular customers than ever

The Railways carried more passenger in 2017: 1.26 million per day is a 0.6% rise from the previous year’s figures.

It also had more regular customers using its services than ever before. Last year, some 480,000 customers travelled on a personal annual season ticket (+1.5%) and 2.5 million on a half-fare card (+5.7%).

This means that the railways had almost three million regular customers last year – the highest figure in the company’s history.

To put this number into perspective: the Swiss working population consisted of around 5 million people in 2017, according to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office’s annual figuresexternal link.

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