Deutsche Bahn is not coming out of the red in the Corona crisis. In the first six months of the year, the bottom line was a minus of over 1.4 billion euros, according to corporate documents that the Reuters news agency received on Wednesday. Mainly long-distance traffic with ICE and IC was responsible for this. The effect here was that the railway continued to run its trains without major restrictions at the request of the federal government, despite the low utilization. After all, the loss in the group as a whole remained well below the previous year's figure of 3.7 billion euros, which, however, had increased due to special effects such as depreciation. In addition, the company must now repair the billions in damage caused by the flood. There is also a threat of a strike by the train drivers' union GDL. The railway wants to present its half-year balance on Thursday.

A look at the divisions shows how much passenger transport in particular burdens the state-owned company: the long-distance transport subsidiary with IC and ICE alone made an operating loss of over 1.1 billion euros.

Interest payments on loans and taxes are not yet taken into account in this result (EBIT).

During the pandemic, the capacity utilization of the trains was at times only 20 percent, before that it was over 50 percent.

The company put the corona effect on the division's sales at around 430 million.

The depreciation on the new ICE 4 trains also had a negative impact.

In the end, long-distance traffic showed more losses than sales in the first half of the year.

Situation already critical

The fact that the operating loss (EBIT) in the group as a whole, at 975 million euros, was only about half as high as in the same period of the previous year, was thanks to other subsidiaries: the worldwide shipping company Schenker made significantly more profits and the rail network also recorded a plus. Although the ailing rail freight operator DB Cargo still lost a good 200 million euros, this was a clear improvement compared to 2020. It benefits from new demand, as more and more companies want to have goods transported in a climate-friendly manner. Overall, these effects were also reflected in the Group's sales, which, according to the documents, were around EUR 21.8 billion, more than ten percent higher than in the previous year. According to previous information, Deutsche Bahn expects sales of 41 billion euros and an operating loss of two billion euros for 2021 as a whole.

However, the situation at Deutsche Bahn was critical long before the Corona crisis. Material and staff shortages put pressure on punctuality, especially in long-distance but also in freight transport. The debts are now around 30 billion euros and the group needs further help from the owner state. The federal government had promised over ten billion euros as corona aid and from the climate package. However, the EU Commission is hesitant with the approval because of the possible disadvantage of rail competitors.

The railway could face further burdens due to the collective bargaining conflict with the train drivers' union GDL, which has been simmering for months. While the larger railway and transport union had approved a restructuring collective agreement, the GDL rejects it. She has threatened strikes in August, but has not yet given an exact date.