DB track works

DB invests record 7.6 billion euros in German rail in 2023

DB track works Deutsche Bahn AG : Uli Planz

Deutsche Bahn (DB), has invested a record-breaking 7.6 billion euros in 2023 towards the ‘Strong Rail Initiative’ for improving the country’s rail infrastructure. This sum marks a 16 per cent increase in investment compared to the previous year.

The sizable upfront expenses, which included upfront maintenance costs exceeding 1 billion euros for infrastructure revitalization, as well as additional infrastructure investments, impacted DB’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). As a result, DB Group reported an adjusted EBIT of -964 million euros for the 2023 financial year, compared to 1.225 billion euros in the preceding year. Nevertheless, DB remains optimistic and forecasts a positive adjusted EBIT of over 1 billion euros for 2024.

Throughout 2023, there was a continued increase in demand for rail passenger services, prompting DB to enhance its offerings with advancements such as a more extensive and modernised vehicle fleet, expanded connections, and improved digital services.

DB’s CEO, Dr Richard Lutz, emphasised the importance of these investments, stating, “In 2023, we made significant expenditures and conducted more construction than ever before because we cannot delay the overhaul and modernization of our infrastructure.” He highlighted the collaboration with the German government on a comprehensive capital expenditure program, emphasising that neglecting rail infrastructure is no longer an option. Dr. Lutz added, “Thanks to the major increase in budgetary funding from the German government, we can make additional expenditures of roughly 30 billion euros.”

Infrastructure enhancement strategy

A key aspect of DB’s infrastructure enhancement strategy involves the comprehensive modernization of approximately 40 heavily used corridors within its rail network. These corridors will undergo extensive upgrades, including extended platforms, improved track infrastructure, and the integration of digital signalling technology. By 2030, Germany aims to have a high-performance rail network over 9,000 kilometres. The initiative began with the Riedbahn line, a roughly 70-kilometre stretch between Frankfurt and Mannheim. A test phase conducted in January 2024 saw a significant volume of construction material deployed, indicating the ambitious scale of the project.

In 2023, DB and the German government collectively allocated approximately 16.9 billion euros towards gross capital expenditures, with over 94 per cent directed towards rail infrastructure in Germany. While this led to a rise in net financial debt by the end of 2023, DB remains committed to modernization, states the press release.

Despite facing challenges such as inflation-related cost escalations and increased personnel expenses, DB achieved several milestones in its core business segments. Revenues from DB Long-Distance, DB Regional, and DB Cargo experienced notable increases, reflecting growing demand across various service categories.

Looking ahead

DB anticipates further revenue growth and aims to achieve a punctuality rate of about 70 per cent for long-distance services and approximately 93 per cent for DB Regional rail services. However, uncertainties remain, particularly regarding the regulatory framework for increased government funding. As DB continues its journey towards a more efficient and sustainable rail network, it remains prepared to meet the evolving needs of passengers and the broader transportation landscape.

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Author: Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey is an editor at RailTech.com and RailTech.be.

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