Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG can bear the loss from 2021 itself
Due to the continued coronavirus pandemic, Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG suffered a loss of 6.1 million francs in 2021. The Regional Passenger Transport division was particularly affected by this.
The Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG has yet again had another challenging business year. Once again, it shows how decisively important international tourism is for the Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG. Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG suffered a loss of 6.1 million Swiss francs. While the Schynige Platte Railway and the secondary businesses had slightly positive results, the divisions entitled to subsidies had significant losses with “Regional Passenger Transport” at CHF -5.5 million and “Infrastructure” at CHF -0.8 million. These were covered with relevant reserves from the past.
The Regional Passenger Transport division was particularly affected by the strong slump in the tourism sector. The passengers on the Berner Oberland Bahn (BOB) [Berner Oberland Railway] on the routes from Interlaken East to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald have increased by 11.9% compared to last year, but are still clearly under pre-crisis levels. Whole day visitors and holidaymakers continue to avoid public transport and prefer to use a car when visiting the Jungfrau region. International visitors, so important to the BOB, also mostly stayed away in 2021. The BOB achieved traffic revenue of 7.5 million francs, which was 7% more than 2020, but was almost 54% less than 2019.
The frequencies at the Schynige Platte Railway (SPB) were satisfactory considering the delayed start of the season and the rained-out July. In 2021, 85,800 visitors travelled to the Schynige Platte, which was 6.7% more than in 2020. Traffic revenue was 3.2 million francs, which was an increase of 0.4 million francs or 15.5% compared to the previous year.
Amounts in CHF (1000s)
Change in percentage
Transport revenue, Bernese Oberland Railway
Transport revenue, Schynige Platte Railway
Total operating income
Total operating expenses
Cost savings and investments
After the outbreak of the pandemic, the management immediately took measures to reduce costs. These were consequently followed during 2021 as well, and it was possible to further reduce operating expenses by 0.9 million francs or 3.2%. The staff supported the measures and the company again resorted to using short-time work.
The goal is to operate the railway in a cost-conscious manner and to preserve the SPB as a historical jewel. The close collaboration with the Jungfrau Railway Group guarantees the Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG a competitive advantage. A primary focus is on public services and rounding out the mountain railway service in the region.
Important infrastructure investment projects are planned in the coming years. Work on the conversion of the Zweilütschinen railway station was commenced in spring 2022 and the approval procedure for the conversion of Burglauenen railway station to add an underpass is underway. Both projects serve to provide barrier-free access to public transport. The new Wilderswil-Airport junction and the Matten stop, including the Park&Ride facility, are also in preparation. In the coming years, the BOB is acquiring six additional multiple units for running additional trains to Grindelwald and to increase the operational reserve. The vehicles could only be ordered at the end of March 2022, after the federal government and the Canton of Bern gave their approval.
The renewal of the Wilderswil workshops and the railway tracks at the Schynige Platte Railway, some of which stem from the founder’s era, are being tackled with considerable support from the canton of Bern, as well as contributions from the Wilderswil municipality and First Cableway AG. The preparations are primarily underway in 2022. Construction work will start at the end of 2022 at the earliest and is expected to last for six years. The season for the SPB starts on 26 May 2022.
Core business and successful alliance
The core business of Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG consists of the marketing of the BOB and SPB. The BOB provides access to the two Lütschinen valleys from Interlaken East. It transports guests on the routes from Interlaken East to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald. As a modern regional railway, the BOB has an important feeder function for the Lütschinen valleys and the excursion destinations in the Jungfrau region. In addition, Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG operates the Schynige Platte Railway that leads from Wilderswil to the Schynige Platte.
In the operational area, subsidiaries of Jungfraubahn Holding AG (JBH) collaborate closely with the Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG. BOB have transferred operational management to Jungfraubahnen Management AG of which they own a 33% stake.