2015 was a challenging year, but we are well on our way: More customers and more satisfied customers – earnings under pressure because of the strong Swiss franc.

In 2015, Swiss Federal Railways SBB carried about 1.21 million passengers every day (+2.7 per cent). Customer satisfaction with SBB has increased. Consolidated net income decreased by CHF 127 million to CHF 246 million. The strong Swiss franc forced down earnings by CHF 80 million. SBB Cargo posted a loss of CHF 22 million. In 2015, SBB made additional investments in maintenance of the track network amounting to CHF 109 million. More trains then ever bevor circulated in the mixed traffic network in spite of more maintenance and worksites. Customer punctuality was able to be kept constant. This means SBB remains the most punctual railway in Europe.

The grand total of more than five million customers are more satisfied with the products and services offered by SBB than was the case in the previous year. Customer satisfaction increased by 0.5 to 74.8 points overall. Customers were more satisfied with the available space, the attitude of SBB employees, the cleanliness in trains and at railway stations, and the price/performance ratio; punctuality, however, came in for slightly more criticism.

87.8 per cent of all travellers reached their destination on time, 0.1 per cent more than in 2014 – although the target value has not been achieved yet. While punctuality was able to be increased in the Zurich region, there is need for improvement on the south/north axis and in long-distance services. This is being addressed in extensive programmes. In spite of a further increase in construction and maintenance work, SBB remains the most punctual railway in Europe with a network that experiences the most intensive use in the world.

The largest timetable change since Rail 2000 functioned smoothly on the whole at the end of 2015. A central feature was the commissioning of the second phase of the Zurich cross-city line. The 2016 timetable has increased the availability of access to long-distance services by 1 per cent, and by 3.3 per cent in regional services. Important expansion projects made good progress in 2015, such as «Léman 2030» and the expansion to four tracks between Olten and Aarau.

By the end of 2015, around 80 stations had been equipped with free WiFi. The introduction of the SwissPass represents a first step towards offering simple access for mobility. Gradually, additional offerings will be integrated into the SwissPass. A smartphone version is planned for 2017.

On the move with ever greater use of digital services

SBB Mobile tickets are becoming more and more popular: In 2015, SBB customers bought around 34,000 tickets every day using the smartphone app – more than 40 per cent up on the previous year. With 12.3 million tickets sold, accounting for 14 per cent of sales, SBB Mobile is the "largest station". 19.8 million tickets were sold over the counter, about 1 million fewer than in 2014 (-5.5 per cent). However, sales from attended counters will continue to be highly important for a long time to come. SBB has further improved its customer information all along the journey chain, such as with LED indicator boards at large stations which also allow information to be displayed immediately if there is a problem. The SBB Mobile app is being further developed hand in hand with customers to become a digital travel guide.

Customers' needs are changing, and SBB is continuously adapting itself. By the end of 2015, SBB had withdrawn from the travel agency business due to the drop in demand attributable to online bookings, amongst other reasons. Changing consumer behaviour in trains and increasing levels of catering in stations prompted SBB to redesign its future railway catering. Insufficient demand led to the decision to close the business points in Berne and Geneva at the end of March 2016. These three businesses were losing around CHF 20 million annually.

Consolidated net income down – financial position remains challenging

Consolidated net income was CHF 246 million, down by CHF 127 million. Without the effects of the strong Swiss franc, it would have been about CHF 80 million higher. It was possible to keep the negative effects under control by imposing a hiring freeze, a waiting period for vacant positions and renegotiations in procurement. Free cash flow was CHF -523 million (previous year: CHF -205 million). Net interest-bearing debt rose to CHF 8,252 million (previous year: CHF 7,720 million), in particular because of investments in rolling stock and stations as well as the Infrastructure (Network) deficit. The debt coverage ratio (net interest-bearing debt/EBITDA) was 6.9 (previous year: 6.7).

Headcount increased by 270 full-time positions to 33,000 (+0.8 per cent). At Group level, headcount increased by a good 200 to 4,489 positions because IT created positions for tasks that used to be outsourced and training was consolidated further. With its RailFit20/30 programme, SBB intends to reduce its cost level by CHF 550 million compared to 2014, and by CHF 1.75 billion by 2030. She plans to cut at least 900 jobs by the end of 2020. Where it is necessary, jobs will be created, such as amongst locomotive crew, engineers or in Innovation.

1.21 million passengers per day achieved – SBB is feeling the impact of the strong Swiss franc

In 2015, SBB transported on average 1.21 million passengers every day (previous year: 1.18 million, +2.7 per cent), once again setting a record. In long-distance services, it was pleasing to see that demand rose more strongly in off-peak periods (+1.8 per cent) than in peak periods (+1.6 per cent) for the first time. Around 460,000 customers use a GA travelcard (+1.6 per cent); 2.33 million customers possess a Half-Fare travelcard (-0.5 per cent). By the end of 2015 already 887,000 SwissPass cards were in circulation.

Passenger revenues increased to CHF 131 million (previous year: CHF 104 million). Without the effects of the strong Swiss franc, they would have been about CHF 35 million higher. The growth in earnings is primarily thanks to higher traffic revenues in long-distance as well as regional services.

SBB Real Estate posted lower earnings before compensation payments than in the previous year, at CHF 342 million (2014: CHF 395 million). Gains on real estate sales were CHF -50 million lower; the previous year's figure was unusually high as a result of the sale of office buildings. However, SBB Real Estate continued to profit from the dynamic effect of attractive central locations.

With annual earnings of CHF -22 million (previous year: CHF 33 million), SBB Cargo was unable to confirm the positive results achieved in the previous two years. The strong Swiss franc, economic downturn and increasing deindustrialisation forced down earnings by around CHF 35 million. Thanks to cost-cutting and efficiency measures, a balanced result could be achieved in the second half of the year.

SBB Infrastructure once again posted negative earnings of CHF -96 million (2014: CHF -66 million). This is above all because of additional maintenance in excess of the assumptions made in the performance agreement for 2013 to 2016. Once again, SBB financed the additional expense from its own funds in 2015 (CHF 109 million). As agreed with the Swiss federal government, SBB will be assuming these additional costs, as it has done since 2013, for the last time in 2016. SBB intends to improve the efficiency of maintenance further.

New Gotthard Base Tunnel: Construction of the century will be officially opened

On 1 June 2016, the world's longest railway tunnel, at 57 kilometres, will be officially opened. Services through the tunnel will start with the timetable change on 10/11 December. Freight services will benefit from a predicted increase in transport capacity of 59 per cent by 2030. The duration of journeys between Zurich and Milan will be cut by 30 minutes, and by 60 minutes as of 2020.

Network Condition Report 2015 and target achievement with regard to the performance agreement with the federal government

According to the Network Condition Report 2015, which has been published today, the condition of the railway infrastructure is good to satisfactory overall, and safety is guaranteed. There are no acutely critical facilities, although the condition of the trackbed is only satisfactory. As expected, the need for remedial measures could not be stabilised yet in the long term: It increased by CHF 275 million to 2,796 million (previous year: CHF 2,521 million), which taken overall remains about 3 per cent of the replacement value of all assets.

SBB slightly improved the target achievement of its performance agreement with the federal government compared to 2014, and met 7 out of 15 targets (2014: 5). However, SBB feels that more than half of the target indicators fail to measure the effectively provided services of the Infrastructure division or cannot be influenced by the latter.

Network Condition Report and the Annual Report are available under www.sbb.ch/geschaeftsberichtLink opens in new window.

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The full 2015 SBB Annual Report can be downloaded free of charge at www.sbb.ch/geschaeftsberichtLink opens in new window..

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