Monday, June 6, 2011

High speed rail operational surplus

Examples from across the world of high speed rail systems posting an operational surplus.

Revenue: 7.2 billion euros
Gross profit: 915 million euros
Operating income: 535 million euros

It should be noted that, although owned by the government, SNCF pays taxes on its income and annual tolls of 1.306 billion euros for the TGV to Réseau Ferré de France, the owner of the French rail network, and 3.6 billion euros in total from other rail operations.

SNCF (France) 2011, page 14
Revenue: 7,279 million euros
Gross profit: 1020 million euros
Operating profit: 581 million euros

Renfe (Spain) 2008, pages 163-164
Revenue: 1.067 billion euros
EBITDA: 146.05 million euros
EBIT: 25.94 million euros
Net income: -24.84 million euros

Renfe (Spain) 2009, pages 154-155
Revenue: 2,142.24 million euros
EBITDA: 257.89 million euros
EBIT: -36.37 million euros
Net income: 13.11 million euros

Renfe (Spain) 2010, pages 154-155
Revenue: 2,161.09 million euros
EBITDA: 270.65 million euros
EBIT: -4.77 million euros
Net income: 46.20 million euros

Although the total income is slightly negative, that is including depreciation. Even with 264 million euros paid to Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias, the Spanish rail network owner and operator, for trackage rights, the AVE system garners sufficient ticket revenue to pay for the operation of the system.

The 2008 numbers are not comparable with others. In 2010, Renfe merged all of its passenger services into one department, the numbers here include all ticket revenue for commuters and other trains as well plus subsidies for these services (382.98 million euros in 2009, 366.68 million in 2010)

Revenue: 3.565 billion euros
EBITDA: 504 million euros
EBIT: 141 million Euros

Sales: 3.356 billion euros
Profit from ordinary activities: 155 million euros

In the case of the 2010 report, my figures may be flawed since I do not read German, despite two years of college German classes.

DB Bahn Long-Distance business unit (Germany) 2011
Revenue: 1,825 million euros
EBITDA: 227 million euros
EBIT: 40 million euros

Transportation operating revenue: 1,142,369 million yen
Transportation operating expense: 870,358 million yen
Transportation operating income: 272,011 million yen

This includes revenue and expenses from both Shinkansen high speed rail and conventional rail systems. Shinkansen revenue amounted to 973.7 billion yen in FY 2009, indicating that it is fully capable of funding itself.

Railway operating revenues: 806,834 million yen
Railway operating expenses: 745,789 million yen
Railway operating income: 61,044 million yen

Page 27 of this document breaks down transportation revenue by rail line. The Shinkansen is responsible for 323.9 billion yen and conventional lines 404 billion yen. According to page 26, pure ticket sales amounted to 728 billion yen, and operating expenses excluding taxes, depreciation, and rental payments came to 568.7 billion yen.

Transportation operating revenues: 1,808,704 million yen
Transportation costs and expenses: 1,577,378 million yen
Transportation operating income: 231,326 million yen

It should be noted that JR East was severely affected by the Great East Japanese Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Revenue and operating income amounted to 1,772,493 million yen and 227,150 million yen respectively, with expenses not given. Page 33 breaks down totals between Shinkansen and conventional rail with 431.5 billion yen (2011) for Shinkansen and 1,177.5 billion yen for conventional rail.

Acela revenue: 449.9 million USD
Acela costs including OPEBs: 349.3 million USD
Acela fully allocated contribution: 100.6 million USD

Acela is the only high speed line in America, briefly reaching a top speed of 150 miles per hour, although it is limited to lower speeds along most of its route (for instance, a top speed of only 135 miles per hour between Washington D.C. and New York City).

2009 Operating income: NT$23,323,712,000
2009 Operating profit: NT$5,564,846,000
2010 Operating income: NT$27,635,351,000
2010 Operating profit: NT$9,071,545,000

It should be noted that 2009 was the first year in which the Taiwanese high speed rail system covered its operational costs, having begun operations in 2007. Even though it ran at an operational profit, high depreciation charges and high interest costs resulted in a net loss until the government took over the system. High speed rail is not necessarily capable of covering its capital costs on ticket revenue alone without government backing in some manner (at the very least, government backing of loans for lower interest rates).

Edit: For clarification purposes, I should note that JR Kyushu and Korail are not listed because I could not find data for them and SNCB does not appear to break out their data between regular travel and high speed rail. Anyone else not listed, I simply didn't look for. Taiwan HSR was added on June 10, 2011. Spanish 2009-2010, German and French 2011 added on April 14, 2012.


  1. Korail used to display some data showing overall profits on its website. It got killed in a web redesign, if I'm not mistaken.

    JR Kyushu is still indirectly owned by the government, through the JNR settlement corporation. So it doesn't have to report numbers to the public.

    Do you have links to the overall SNCB numbers?

  2. Here's a link to their 2009 annual report.

    However, if I'm correct in thinking that SNCB Europe is the division responsible for their high speed rail lines, then this press release would indicate a 19.4 million euro net profit for Belgian HSR.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. "JR Kyushu . . . doesn't have to report numbers to the public."

    Not so; JR-Kyushu does report summary financial data, albeit in Japanese:

    Column headings, left to right, are:

    営業収益 Operating revenue

    (鉄道運輸収入)[of which] Railway transportation revenue

    営業費用 Operating expense

    営業損益 Operating income (or loss; △, triangle, indicates loss)

    営業外損益 Non-operating income

    経常利益 Ordinary income (or loss, △)

  5. Units, 億円, "oku en," are 100 million yen. Thus, "1,584" means 158.4 thousand million (billion) yen.


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