Bernese Oberland Railway (BOB) remains on the path to success

In 2019, Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG earned CHF 20.04 million (+5.1%), the first time its transport revenue exceeded CHF 20 million. The annual profit for 2019 was CHF 3.8 million, CHF 1.7 million higher than in 2018. In December 2019, with the Männlichen Railway and the Terminal stop at Grindelwald Grund, the first part of the V-Cableway generation project went into operation on time.

The Bernese Oberland Railway (BOB) provides access to the two Lütschinen valleys from Interlaken Ost. They transport guests on the routes from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald. Since 14 December 2019, the BOB has also stopped at the new Terminal stop in Grindelwald Grund, thus offering direct public transport connections to the Männlichen Railway. As a modern regional railway, the BOB has an important feeder function for the excursion destinations in the Jungfrau Region.

In 2019, the BOB generated transport revenue of CHF 16.1 million, mainly thanks to the strong traffic to the Jungfraujoch, an increase of 7.6 per cent on the previous year. Despite a two-week delay in opening, the Schynige Platte Railway achieved a transport revenue of CHF 3.9 million, 4.2 per cent lower than in 2018. Last year, 119,000 guests travelled on the Schynige Platte Railway (from Schynige Platte), a decline of 6.6 per cent on the previous year.

 

Amounts in CHF (1000s)

2019

2018

Change
in per cent

Transport revenue, Bernese Oberland Railway

16,125

14,989

7.6%

Transport revenue, Schynige Platte Railway

3,912

4,083

-4.2%

Compensation

16,808

17,450

-3.7%

Total operating income

47,325

42,749

10.7%

Total operating expenses

-30,995

-29,079

6.6%

EBITDA

16,330

13,670

19.5%

Annual profit

3,840

2,093

83.5%

Significant investments

Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG's investments in the V-Cableway totalled just under CHF 115 million. The cost of rolling stock and depots/workshops was largely financed through loans secured by the Swiss government. The costs for the new “Terminal” station of around CHF 9 million will be borne by federal Swiss infrastructure financing and a contribution from Grindelwald Grund Infrastructure AG (a subsidiary of Jungfraubahn Holding AG). The direct public transport connection to the terminal of the V-Cableway is an important part of the generation project.

The traffic studies commissioned by Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG confirm the central role of Berner Oberland-Bahnen AG in coping with future traffic volumes in the Lütschinen valleys. With the planned park and ride facility at the former military airfield in Wilderswil, another effective step will be taken in shifting traffic towards public transport.

Outlook

The Schynige Platte Railway (SPB) has been transporting guests from Switzerland and abroad from Wilderswil to the Schynige Platte (1,967 m.a.s.l.) since 1893, i.e. for 126 years. An important project for the future of the historic railway is the renewal of the track system, some of which dates from the time it was built. The Schynige Platte Railway is reliant on external support for the renovation of the workshop and tracks. An application for a financial aid package was submitted to the Canton of Bern at the end of 2019. The Board of Directors is confident that a decision will still be taken in 2020 and that the strategic restructuring programme can then be implemented in the medium term.

First section of the V-Cableway opened

The first section of the V-Cableway was opened in December 2019. Since then, the new BOB Terminal stop in Grindelwald Grund has offered direct public transport access to the valley station of the new 10-person Grindelwald-Männlichen (GGM) aerial gondola. The full opening of the terminal together with the Eiger Express tricable gondola of Jungfraubahn Holding AG will take place in  December 2020.

Upon the full opening, the journey by public transport to the Jungfraujoch and the ski area will be significantly reduced by 47 minutes. The attractiveness of rail compared with road will be significantly increased.

Core business and successful alliance

The core business of the BOB is the marketing of the two segments: Bernese Oberland Railways and Schynige Platte Railway. The latter operates in the tourist sector. The combination of the two business segments in the core areas and the synergies from the alliance with Jungfraubahn Holding AG are the success factors of the company.