Due to travel restrictions in many places, most guests from distant markets again stayed away in the financial year 2021. So far, the group business and the entire intercontinental tourism industry – which had come to a grinding halt in mid-March 2020 – have only recovered slightly. Despite the difficult market environment, the Jungfrau Railway Group generated EBITDA of CHF 28.7 million in 2021.
The operating income amounted to CHF 130.8 million, a year-on-year increase of CHF 5.1 million. The operating income in 2021 was CHF 92.5 million lower than in the record year 2019. Transport income amounted to CHF 78.7 million, CHF 3.0 million more than in the previous year. While the transport income in the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe and Experience Mountains segments went up, the Winter Sports segment suffered a decline of CHF 1.9 million. Transport income is still more than 50% lower than before the crisis.
Austerity measures go on
The austerity measures introduced after the outbreak of the crisis were continued in 2021. In this way, operating expenses could be reduced by another CHF 1.4 million to CHF 102.0 million. Expenses were thus 15.3% lower than in 2019, the last year prior to the crisis. This is remarkable as business operations had been expanded in December 2020 as scheduled with the Eiger Express, the multi-storey car park at the Grindelwald terminal, a new shop and four additional restaurants. Many of the employees continued to do short-time work in 2021. This key measure has helped preserve jobs in the region and makes it possible to ramp up operations whenever the demand rises.
Due to the full commissioning of the V-Cableway, depreciation and amortisation increased by CHF 6.2 million to CHF 39.6 million. In the reporting year, the Jungfrau Railway Group applied for hardship assistance for operations that suffered especially severe revenue losses. The amount of CHF 11.6 million that was granted by the canton as hardship assistance was posted as extraordinary income. After taxes, the annual loss amounted to CHF -162,000, (2020: CHF -9,6 million).
As previously, the consolidated balance sheet as at 31 December 2021 shows equity of CHF 597.0 million. This means a very good equity ratio of 72.9%. The debt capital of CHF 222.2 million includes financial liabilities of CHF 135.0 million. Of this amount, interest-bearing bank liabilities of Jungfraubahn Holding AG merely account for CHF 45.0 million, as in the previous year. Additionally, a loan of CHF 6.1 million has been raised to finance the rolling stock of Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen-Mürren AG in the context of the Mürrenbahn renovation. The remaining CHF 83.9 million relate to non-interest-bearing loans from the public sector, especially for the financing of railway infrastructure. Most of these loans are only conditionally repayable.
Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
Despite the pandemic, Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe remains the most significant segment of the Jungfrau Railway Group, though this segment is the one most severely impacted by COVID-19. Though the number of guests was 0.7% higher than in the previous year, it was 65.4% below that of 2019, the last pre-crisis year. Net sales went up by CHF 5.1 million or 7.4% to CHF 74.3 million. The visitors from Switzerland and Europe and, in the second half of the year, from the USA and the Gulf states were unable to compensate for the lack of guests from Asia. EBITDA underwent a year-on-year increase of CHF 3.5 million to CHF 6.6 million.
The Experience Mountains segment performed very well. Net sales went up by 21.4% to CHF 20.5 million and EBITDA increased by 55.6% to CHF 9.1 million. The performance of the individual railways varied. Harder Railway stepped up its frequencies by 36.1% and achieved the third-best result in its history. First Railway, too, achieved a significant increase in excursion traffic while Mürren Cable- and Railway had a hard time due to factors such as the two interruptions for several weeks because of intensive construction phases in the context of the renovation work.
The Winter Sports segment did not record any increase. The number of ski visits (first entries) in the entire Jungfrau Ski Region (joint venture in which the Jungfrau Railway Group holds more than 60%) amounted to 898,300, a level similar to that of 2020. The winter sports demand was curbed significantly by the fact that during the 2020/2021 season, restaurants were only able to provide take-away offerings. The net sales totalled CHF 29.4 million, 0.9% less than in the previous year. The Winter Sports segment generated EBITDA of CHF 2.2 million, a decline of CHF 1.5 million compared to the financial year 2020.
|CHF (thousands)||2021||2020||Change in %|
|Net sales – Jungfraujoch||74,320||69,214||7.4%|
|Net sales – Experience Mountains||20,457||16,849||21.4%|
|Net sales – Winter Sports||29,422||29,675||-0.9%|
|Net sales – other segments*||42,899||42,239||1.6%|
|Netting intercompany sales||-36,341||-32,326||12.4%|
|Total operating income||130,757||125,651||4.1%|
*The other segments especially include the Jungfrau Railway power station, Jungfraubahnen Management AG and the multi-storey car parks in Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen.
The Jungfrau Railway Group’s total investment volume in the year ended was CHF 65.3 million. Of this amount, the V-Cableway project accounted for CHF 27.9 million. The investments in the intergenerational project were thus completed. In total, these investments amount to CHF 354 million, some 10% more than originally planned. More than 5% of this is added value. The V-Cableway project includes the Eiger Express, the Grindelwald terminal and the multi-storey car park as core elements as well as the previous renewal of the rolling stock of the Wengernalp Railway and the Jungfrau Railway.
The second large project in the Jungfrau Railway Group is the Lauterbrunnen-Mürren Mountain Railway renovation programme, which is financed by the Canton of Bern as part of the traffic eligible for billing. Investments of about CHF 50 million are estimated for the overall upgrade of Mürren Railway. In 2021, CHF 15.3 million were invested in the replacement of the rolling stock, track renewal, expansion of the Grütschalp station and workshop and Winteregg station. The comprehensive renovation work is to be finished by 2023.
The renewed station building with track 3 was commissioned on Jungfraujoch. Renovation work also commenced on the roof of the glacier restaurants. CHF 7.9 million were invested in these two projects. The Wengernalp Railway is purchasing new rolling stock for the Wengen shuttle, which will especially benefit guests travelling from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen. In 2021, down payments were made in the amount of CHF 5.2 million.
Key figures of the consolidated financial statements
|CHF (thousands)||2021||2020||Change in %|
|Free cash flow||-25,296||-93,342||-72.9%|
|Headcount (full-time equivalents)||637||665||-4.2%|
|2021||2020||Change in %|
While the recovery of the markets was deferred by about six months due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions, many precautions were lifted in Switzerland and in some other European countries due to the often mild symptoms of this new variant. This is an important step on the way back to normal. Nevertheless, it will take some time for the travel activity to recover.
The further development of the pandemic and the tense world situation due to the conflict in Ukraine will influence the business performance of the Jungfrau Railway Group in 2022. Currently, it is not possible to predict the consequences.
The pandemic has accelerated the shift from group business to FIT (free independent traveller) business. The associated need for more convenience, faster transportation and orderly processes can be met especially thanks to the V-Cableway at the Eiger Express and the new transfer arrangements in the Grindelwald terminal and at the Eigergletscher. Based on the experience gained in the first year of operation, aspects such as the visitor guidance, the signage and the digital guest orientation were further optimised. The operation is thus well prepared to return to normal. Moreover, the good connection of the V-Cableway to the public transportation network is instrumental in overcoming the reluctance of guests to use public transportation due to the pandemic.
The products of the Jungfrau Railway Group depend on an intact natural and social environment. This is one of the reasons why the company puts a lot of emphasis on sustainable development. Based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Board of Directors and the Executive Board have therefore determined the sustainability targets to be achieved. The rollout will take place step by step and will also be reflected in the reporting as is already the case in the latest annual report.
Annual report and proposals to the General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting of Jungfraubahn Holding AG will be held in Interlaken on 16 May 2022. For the first time after two years, it will be held in person. As the situation is still challenging, the Board of Directors proposes not to pay out any dividend.
Heinz Karrer will be proposed as the successor to Prof. Dr. Thomas Bieger, who served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for many years. Catherine Mühlemann and Thomas Ruoff are to be elected as new members of the Board of Directors, as already announced by Jungfraubahn Holding AG on 24 February 2022.
The annual report of Jungfraubahn Holding AG for 2021 has been published online under the following link: