2016 was a successful year for SBB: It transported 1.25 million passengers every day, more than ever before. Freight services also hit a record high. Customer satisfaction and punctuality have increased, despite lots of construction.
The track network has never been used so intensively.The digital sales channels continued on their upward trend. Consolidated net income rose by CHF 135 million to CHF 381 million thanks to one-off effects; the operating result, however, fell. Freight services achieved a positive result again despite the difficult economic situation. SBB invested CHF 123 million in rail infrastructure from its own funds for the last time. Public-sector funding rose by 7.7 per cent, in particular due to subsequent costs of new infrastructure.
The milestone set in 2013 of 75.0 points for customer satisfaction was reached (+0.2 points compared to the previous year; +1.9 points compared to 2013). Customers were more satisfied with the cleanliness and available space; the price-performance ratio was rated more critically. This shows that SBB needs to continue to work towards ensuring at least stable prices.
88.8 per cent of all passengers arrived on time with SBB – a figure that is one percentage point higher than in 2015 and the highest value for five years. SBB remains Europe’s most punctual railway company in the world’s most intensively used mixed transport network. With the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the punctuality has also improved on the north-south axis, but there is still need for action here, in particular with regard to border-crossing traffic with Italy and rolling stock. SBB has also improved in terms of safety: There were no major incidents in 2016, although a certain amount of luck plays a role here.
Opening and commissioning of the Gotthard Base Tunnel showed the world what Switzerland can achieve with innovation, precision and reliability. Key expansion projects such as the Eppenberg Tunnel between Aarau and Olten and «Léman 2030» in western Switzerland have progressed well.
Higher consolidated net income
Consolidated net income rose by CHF 135 million to 381 million, mainly due to real estate sales, the improved financial result and the recovery in freight services; the operating result, however, dropped. Free cash flow amounted to CHF –540 million (previous year: CHF –523 million). Net interest-bearing debt rose to CHF 8,796 million (previous year: CHF 8,252 million). The debt coverage ratio, i.e. net interest-bearing debt in relation to EBITDA, increased to 7.3 (previous year: 6.9). This is attributable to exceptional factors, namely stabilisation of the pension fund and additional expenditure for network maintenance.
Federal and cantonal funding for operation and maintenance of infrastructure, enhancement work and commissioned regional services rose by 7.7 per cent to CHF 2,466 million. This increased above all due to higher maintenance and operation, including the takeover of the Gotthard Base Tunnel and commissioning of the cross-city line Zurich (+9.9 per cent). This demonstrates the strong financial impact of subsequent costs of infrastructure enhancements. To dampen the resulting increase in overall system costs, SBB is implementing its «RailFit20/30» programme: By 2020, costs are cut by CHF 1.2 billion compared to 2014.
The workforce remained virtually unchanged, despite greater performance in all areas of SBB. The number of full-time positions rose by 37 to 33,119 (+0.1 per cent). At Group level, the number of jobs increased by 81 to 4,651 because Purchasing and Education were consolidated further, thereby increasing efficiency and quality in these areas.
By 2020, 1,400 jobs are to be cut in a socially acceptable manner within the framework of «RailFit20/30», with an annual fluctuation of about 1,800 jobs. To manage the increase in traffic, 200 jobs will be created, e.g. amongst train staff.
More passengers and freight transported
Passenger Traffic earnings increased to CHF 139 million (previous year: CHF 131 million). Passenger revenues saw a moderate performance on a national level, rising by 1.5 per cent to CHF 2,920 million. In international passenger services, revenues dropped overall, due to a drop in demand to Paris as a result of the security situation.
SBB again transported more passengers: daily about 1.25 million (+3.5 per cent). Demand at non-peak times again rose more strongly than at peak traffic times. SBB has more regular customers than ever before: About 472,000 customers used a GA travelcard (+2.6 per cent) and 2.4 million used a Half-Fare travelcard (+2.7 per cent).
At the end of 2016, about 2.1 million SwissPass cards were in circulation.
The trend towards SBB Mobile tickets continued: With a total of 18 million tickets (+45 per cent), SBB Mobile exceeded sales at counters for the first time. Here, 16 million tickets were sold, 19 per cent fewer than in 2015. Personally operated sales will, however, maintain a strong presence for a long time to come.
SBB Real Estate generated higher earnings before compensation payments of CHF 433 million (2015: CHF 342 million). Sales contributed to the good result in the amount of CHF 221 million (2015: CHF 140 million). Higher rental income from railway stations and investment properties was also recorded. In addition to the compensation payments to Infrastructure of CHF 150 million, SBB Real Estate made compensation payments of CHF 271 million for the financial recovery of the pension fund.
SBB Cargo has returned to the black in an economic environment that is still difficult and becoming more challenging for domestic freight services and exports. Earnings of CHF 1 million (previous year: CHF –22 million) were achieved thanks to fresh growth at SBB Cargo International, further efficiency improvements in production and the reduction in structural costs at SBB Cargo Switzerland. SBB Cargo transported more freight overall: The number of net tonne-kilometres rose by 9.9 per cent to a record figure of 16,559 million. The transport volumes in domestic wagonload traffic (WLV), however, are falling. With «WLV 2017», SBB Cargo mastered the biggest timetable change in the history of the company.
SBB Infrastructure again recorded a negative result of CHF –103 million (2015: –96 million). In 2016, SBB once again contributed CHF 123 million to rail infrastructure from its own funds, amongst other things because not all additional costs in maintenance were covered by the service-level agreement. In accordance with the agreement with the federal government, this happened for the last time in 2016. Overall, SBB contributed CHF 487 million to rail infrastructure from its own funds between 2013 and 2016.
Course set with Strategy 2020 – east-west axis upgrade
Digitalisation, changed customer needs and new market players are transforming mobility profoundly. In 2016, SBB made significant ground in this respect with its new strategy and «RailFit20/30» programme. SBB will dampen the increase in overall railway costs, boost innovations and invest in a targeted manner, while pursuing an economically oriented approach, increasing revenues and the occupancy rate of trains and organising the mobility chain for its customers on the basis of a strong management and service culture. With the new version of SBB Mobile, the SBB Trip Planner, the smart freight wagon and the «SBB Green Class» combined offer, specific steps were taken (see also: www.sbb.ch/strategie).
Along with the work on the north-south axis, the east-west axis is now increasingly the focus. In western Switzerland, a considerable expansion of SBB’s offer is scheduled with «Léman 2030» and «Léman Express». More capacity in trains, more connections and enhanced railway stations will make rail transport more attractive and strengthen it. The long-awaited double-deck trains for long-distance services will also enhance the east-west axis, offering a high level of travel comfort and about 1,300 seats. Supplier Bombardier is doing everything so that the trains will be licensed in 2017; SBB considers this to be possible but challenging. It will only use the trains once they can be operated without teething problems. There will be no experiments with customers.
The four-track expansion between Olten and Aarau will allow the capacity of the main artery of the Swiss rail network to be increased from the end of 2020.
Network Status Report 2016 and target achievement with regard to the service-level agreement with the federal government
The network status of SBB is good overall and has improved slightly due to the commissioning of new facilities such as the Gotthard Base Tunnel. There are no acutely critical facilities; safety is ensured at all times. In terms of the tracks, however, the status continues to be merely sufficient. The backlog in maintenance and renewal of the rail infrastructure totals CHF 4.9 billion (previous year: CHF 4.2 billion); this corresponds to 5.6 per cent of the replacement value of CHF 87.8 billion. 42 per cent of the backlog is accounted for by the tracks.
The upward trend that began in 2014 for the objectives of the service-level agreement increased in 2016. The considerably higher maintenance compared to the previous year had an effect: The availability of the facilities significantly increased. The safety objectives were all exceeded as in the previous year. For the majority of the objectives, SBB Infrastructure recorded improvements, but only six of the 15 objectives set in 2011 were achieved in the reporting period (–1 compared to 2015). However, more than half of the indicators do not measure the services actually provided or cannot be influenced by SBB Infrastructure.
The network status report and annual report on the service-level agreement can be found at: www.sbb.ch/geschaeftsbericht
In Gotthard-Base Tunnel.(SBB Image)