FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn [DBN.UL] increased passenger numbers and sales in January through April and will invest in punctuality, German Sunday newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) reported.
“We had three percent more passengers in the first four months of this year and sales increased by seven percent,” chief executive Richard Lutz said in an interview made available to Reuters ahead of publication.
He did not supply total numbers. Deutsche Bahn last year transported 142 million passengers, then an all-time high, on German long-distance trains and recorded sales of 42.7 billion euros (37.46 billion pounds).
Lutz cited additional trains, more competitively priced tickets and improved services such as free Wi-Fi as drivers in the revenue improvement.
But he added that rail freight traffic was not doing as well and should barely be profitable this year.
The company in December scaled back its pre-tax profit outlook for 2018 by 250 million euros to 2.25 billion euros.
Lutz also said Deutsche Bahn would aim for more punctuality on which it would spend more than 100 million euros this year via measures such as better maintenance, new signal boxes and rolling stock.
However, a target for 85 percent of trains arriving on time would only be reachable in 2022 as the company would remain beset by the basic dilemma of overstressed infrastructure “for years,” he said.
While the government has ruled out a share listing of parent company DB AG, Lutz said a capital participation by third parties in the company’s British subsidiary DB Arriva and logistics unit DB Schenker was still possible.
Deutsche Bahn called off plans to privatise the two subsidiaries in November 2016 after Britain’s referendum decision to leave the European Union.
Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Mark Heinrich