Corona pandemic: Rail needs eight to ten billion euros

Deutsche Bahn is under economic pressure due to the burdens of the Corona crisis and needs additional financial support from the federal government. According to information from the German Press Agency, the federally owned group will need around eight to ten billion euros by 2024 – up to half of which Deutsche Bahn could take over. The current debt ceiling of around 25 billion euros is likely to be expanded, the railroad was just below the crisis before the crisis. Savings are also conceivable in some places. However, investments should remain at a high level.

The "Spiegel" had previously reported that rail chief Richard Lutz had informed Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) that his company was going deep into the red. The financial requirement amounts to around ten billion euros. With regard to the figures, the FDP member of the Bundestag, Torsten Herbst, spoke of a "nightmare for the taxpayer".

The railways cut their offerings in the Corona crisis, but most of the timetable was maintained – to maintain basic services. Lutz said at the beginning of April that long-distance transport would still be around three quarters of what is normally available. Because people in systemically relevant professions such as police officers, nursing staff or supermarket employees should be able to continue driving. However, long-distance passenger numbers have dropped to 10 to 15 percent of the pre-crisis level. There are also problems in freight transport.

FDP politician Herbst, chairman in the transport committee of the Bundestag, emphasized that it was right that the railways maintain basic services despite the crisis. But the empty trains caused "huge new deficits" – and he wondered "what concrete agreement there is between the Federal Government and Deutsche Bahn". The Transport Committee is not aware of a number.

A rail spokesman told the dpa on Friday: "We have been in close contact with our owner since the beginning of the Corona crisis. After the April figures were presented, the Supervisory Board will be informed of the economic situation in a regular meeting on May 15. " CEO Lutz had already emphasized weeks ago that the corona pandemic would hit the railroad "probably even harder than the 2008/2009 financial crisis".

The FDP transport politician Christian Jung doubted that the corona crisis was responsible for the billion dollar hole. "According to my analysis, the current financial crisis at Deutsche Bahn can only be partially explained by the corona pandemic," said Jung on Friday. He asked the board around the head of the railway station Lutz to prove the reasons to the Bundestag and the Federal Audit Office. In addition, the management board had to forego bonus payments in the millions. "In the tense situation, we don't need crisis winners and bonus hunters for state-owned companies," said Jung.

The federal government, as the owner, decided last year to raise its railways' equity capital worth billions. However, this money has already been earmarked, for example to modernize the infrastructure.

The EVG union therefore warned that the "Strong Rail" rail program, in the course of which 100,000 employees are to be hired, should not be called into question. "Over the next few weeks, the federal government will have to make billions in financing commitments to ensure that local and long-distance transport, as well as rail freight transport, can continue to be maintained," emphasized the deputy chairman of the rail and transport trade union (EVG), Klaus- Dieter Hommel. "In view of the dramatic decline in sales, there is no alternative."


. (tagsToTranslate) Coronavirus (t) Deutsche Bahn