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Pandemic hits profits at CFL rail company

Pandemic hits profits at CFL rail company

by Kathryn OGLESBY 14.06.2021
Passenger numbers almost halved as a result of Covid-19 crisis, according to state company's annual report
The CFL headquarters, next to Luxembourg's central train station
The CFL headquarters, next to Luxembourg's central train station
Photo credit: Gerry Huberty

Profits at Luxembourg’s state rail company fell by nearly 70% to €4.6 million in 2020 compared to the previous year, the group said on Monday, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Prior to the pandemic, the CFL rail company recorded profits of €17.8 million in 2019, mainly driven by property transactions, without which the company would only have recorded a €5.3 million profit. Services including holiday travel tours and electric vehicle rentals, in addition to train travel, also explained the company's 2019 profit figures.  

But the country came to a virtual standstill for several months in 2020 as a result of the public health crisis, with people forced to stay at home, and many abandoning plans to go on holiday. 

“The health crisis and the resulting confinement, impacted on our customers, our employees and their work, as well as our operations,” CFL said in its annual report.

The number of passengers on the company’s rail networks fell to 14.5 million in 2020 from 25 million the previous year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, when homeworking was adopted by the majority of residents and cross-border workers.

Public transport also became free in Luxembourg as of March 2020, with the company saying in 2019 that it expected the government to compensate it for losses of around €25 million as a result of the decision.

The annual report does not say if this money was provided by the government but the CFL did receive just over €958,000 in 2020 from investment grants – although the sources of the funding remain unclear.

The company also spent €92.5 million on investments in infrastructure in 2020 - an increase of 12% on the previous year. Investments included expenditure on 34 trains from French rail manufacturer ALSTOM, delivery of which is due at some stage between the end of next year and 2025.

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