The national railway company, SNCB, increased its operating result by 22.5% last year and slashed its debt by over 100 million euros, according to its 2018 annual performance report, released on Friday. The SNCB’s operational result went from 77.3 million euros in 2017 to 94.7 million euros in 2018 as it pursued its financial recovery. According to the report, this was due in particular to an increase in the number of travellers “for the second consecutive year and in all categories of products”.
Local passenger traffic amounted to 243.9 million persons, a 3.7% increase. This resulted “mainly from a 5.1% increase in the train supply since December 2017” and the launch of the “S” line in Brussels, which helped to increase commuter traffic within the region by 44% from 2015 to 2018, the SNCB reported.
Thanks to these results, the utility was able to cut its economic debt by 107 million euros, ending the year at 2.376 billion euros. “The SNCB thus attained the level of indebtedness of the first of January 2014 (2.437 billion) which was defined as the target to attain by 2020 by the Federal Government,” the company stressed in a press release.
On the other hand, the punctuality of its trains slipped from 88.3% in 2017 to 87.2% last year, although, according to the SNCB, it has improved each month since October 2018.
The railway utility plans to invest 3.2 billion euros in the 2018-2022 cycle. An initial investment of 615 million euros last year was earmarked for rolling stock, workshops, stations, IT and administrative buildings.
On the job front, the SNCB had 17,703 employees on the 1st of January last, as against 18,002 one year before. Despite the reduction, the company took on 1,600 people in 2018 and plans to recruit 1,400 this year.