The increase is attributed primarily to higher income and the effect of its RailFit20/30 programme to boost efficiency. First half group revenues climbed 3.9% year-on-year to reach SFr 4.77bn. Operating expenses rose by 1.5% to SFr 4.45bn, while earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) soared by 55.4% to SFr 316m.

The half-year income from passenger traffic increased from SFr 59.8m to SFr 115.2m due to higher earnings, positive network developments and higher productivity. This growth was achieved despite a slight drop of 0.8% in passenger-km to 9.06 billion, mainly due to strikes in France affecting TGV Lyria services.

SBB Cargo remained in the black with a profit of SFr 3.4m, compared with a loss of SFr 25m a year ago, with improved revenues in both the single-wagon and block-train sectors.

The second half is likely to be challenging as the market situation is generally more difficult in this period; in addition, state compensation payments of up to SFr 10m a year for rail freight traffic will cease as from 2019.  The aim is for SBB Cargo to reach break-even by 2020 and be able to operate competitively under its own steam by 2023.

This involves reducing the number of collection points in the single-wagon network; at the same time SBB Cargo is also looking for new partners.