Rail tonne-km fell by 6.7% from 47.8 billion in the first half of 2017 to 44.5% in the first half of this year.

“Our rail freight business did not have an easy first half of 2018,” Lutz explains. “Rail strikes in France made things particularly difficult. A serious storm in January was an additional challenge. We also faced problems of our own making, however, and we will be addressing those problems in a lasting way.”

Conversely, long-distance passenger traffic grew by 6% from 19.5 billion passenger-km in the first half of 2017 to 20.6 billion this first half, despite a continuing decline in punctuality which has fallen from 78.9% in 2016, to 78.5% in 2017 and 77.4% for the first half of 2018. DB now plans to invest €100m to improve punctuality. Regional passenger traffic was almost static at 20.6 billion passenger-km.

First half revenue grew by 2.3% to €21.5bn and Lutz predicts a similar growth for the full year to reach €43.7bn.

Lutz remains optimistic than DB will match its 2017 performance this year when it achieved an Ebit of €2.15bn. “The fact that we expect full-year Ebit to be roughly on par with last year’s figure despite a weaker first half of the year is due first and foremost to our expectations that we will catch up by the end of the year,” Lutz says. “After all, you may remember that the Rastatt tunnel closure, and Cyclones Xavier and Herwart, made the second half of 2017 particularly difficult.”