České Dráhy Passenger Numbers Fell By Over a Third in 2020

The coronavirus outbreak and the anti-epidemic measures have significantly affected travel in the Czech Republic over the past year. Czech railway company České Dráhy reported a loss of over CZK 4 billion in revenue and a decline of 35% in the number of passengers in 2020, compared to 2019. Long-distance and regional transport traffic also fell.  Photo Credit: BD.

Czech Rep., Mar 9 (BD) – National railway company České Dráhy (ČD) had experienced steady long-term growth in passenger numbers for many years, but this trend was reversed by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, ČD provided transport to 117.7 million passengers, 64 million less than in 2019. 

The anti-epidemic measures had a major impact on travel across the Czech Republic, as schools closed partially, companies transitioned to home office, cross-border travel was restricted, and some large companies paused operation. 

‘‘We recorded the most significant decline in Q2 and Q4. During the first wave of coronavirus in the spring of last year, the number of passengers dropped to an all-time low. At that time, only a tenth of the usual number of people were using trains on average,’’ said Jiří Ješeta, Member of the Board of Directors and Deputy CEO of ČD for Trade. 

The decline in international travel and long-distance journeys is reflected in the drop in the average journey distance of 4km compared to 2019. ČD transported 116 million domestic passengers last year, a 34% drop from the year before. The number of passengers taking international connections fell by 66% year-on-year. In 2019, 5.5 million passengers travelled across the Czech borders; this figure fell to 1.9 million in 2020. 

‘‘Fewer customers and shorter journeys have been reflected in revenue. Due to coronavirus, we lost more than CZK 4 billion in revenue from long-distance and regional transport last year. The situation will not be much better this year either. In the first week of the toughest anti-epidemic measures so far, we record only 30% of passengers compared to 2019,’’ said Ivan Bednárik, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of ČD.

Number of Transported Passengers and Average Transport Distance

20192020Change 2019/2020
Number of Passengers (in Millions)182.1117.735%
Average Transport Distance (in km)47.743.54.2% 

During the coronavirus epidemic, ČD has spent almost CZK 140 million on protective equipment, disinfected compartments and other hygiene measures. “If we do not want to stop investing in vehicles and services, i.e. in the future, we must reduce costs. The business plan for 2021 thus envisages, on the one hand, a realistic estimate of income and, on the other hand, drastically cut costs, on personnel, overheads, and so on. We were looking at savings everywhere. In my opinion, it is realistic that in accordance with international accounting standards, we should get the Czech Railways Group into profit and the parent Czech Railways, which operates passenger transport, should get out of the red,” added Bednárik. 

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