STA, March 6, 2018 – Slovenske Železnice, the state-owned railway operator, generated EUR 30m in operating profit in 2017 and EUR 28m in net profit, CEO Dušan Mes has told the STA in an interview. The figures are better than in the recent years and will allow Slovenske Železnice to start its new five-year investment cycle in a good shape, said Mes.
The figures compare to a EUR 20m net and EUR 30m operating loss posted in 2010. The business reports will be published in full after the supervisory board meeting scheduled for 21 March. Mes has however said that all four companies in the group have reached their plans.
The group has also reduced its debt significantly since 2010, when its loans amounted to a total of EUR 400m. By the end of 2017, the figure was down to EUR 100m.
Moreover, the operator's EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) reached EUR 70m last year. This will allow for an optimistic start of the new investment cycle in passenger and cargo transport, which will aim to reduce costs and boost competitive edge by investing in new trains, new technology and staff.
Mes hopes this investment cycle will allow the operator to make up for lost time of the past two decades.
In late 2017 the operator had nearly 7,450 employees, which was about a third less than in 2010. Mes pointed out that the operator employed about 10,000 people in 2010, while the amount of cargo transported was 30% lower than it was last year.
The amount of goods transported by Slovenske Železnice increased by about 10% in 2017 over 2016 and the profitability of this segment increased as well.
The operator does not intend to continue cutting the number of employees. It intends to focus on replacing those going into retirement with staff that has received a different type of education and is able to address the challenges that come with technological upgrades, according to Mes.