Italy has been one of the worst affected countries in the world by the covid-19 virus, with more than 13,000 deaths.

Announcing the 2019 financial results, FS said that while it was monitoring the situation and its impact on the group it is continuing to stick to it plans.

“The FS Group is aware of its key social and service role for the country and is constantly monitoring the impact of this sanitary emergency Covid-19, in order to pursue its solid medium to long term outlook,” the company says.

FS recorded €12.4bn in revenue in 2019, up €363m or 3% on 2018. Operating costs increased by €230m (2.4%) to €9.8bn. The growth in revenue was driven by the transport division, which increased its turnover by €230m to €7.6bn, with all segments seeing growth.

“2019 was the best year in the history of the FS Group with revenues of more than €12bn and €584m in net profit, without extraordinary transactions,” says FS CEO and general manager, Mr Gianfranco Battisti.

“For the second year in a row, we improved all our financial targets, pursuing revenue growth and cost efficiency. We are guided by our strong 2019 - 2023 Business Plan and the principles of sustainability: with a 1.4% contribution to Italian GDP and lower emissions of 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere over the past year. We achieved these results by putting people at the core of our industrial strategy, and with the determination to improve our business in Italy and around the world.”

FS is preparing strategies that are adapted to changes in the way people travel, which Battisti says will be very different following the pandemic. "We have developed innovative preventive measures to make passenger health safety a permanent part of travelling,” he says.

“It is very important to take immediate steps to identify initiatives to analyse certain dynamics, such as consumer behaviour in their travel patterns, reviewing the customer experience in travel, and making better use of digital channels in order to return to a normal functioning of the society and the economy with sustainable growth, integrating green transition and digital transformation”.

2019 results

Passenger revenues increased by €150m, while road passenger revenue increased by €62m, rail freight increased by €17m, and shipping increased by €1m.

Customer satisfaction and all other journey experience indicators improved, reaching 93.4% for comfort, 90.8% for on-board cleaning of the medium and long-distance trains, 97.1% for station quality and 91% for punctuality of regional services.

Group Ebitda improved by 5.4% to €2.6bn, with an Ebitda margin of 21%. Ebit increased to €829m in 2019, up 16.1% on 2018, with an Ebit margin of 6.7%.

Net profit reached €584m in 2019, up €25m or 4.5% on 2018. FS Group investment totalled €8.1bn in 2019, with a strong increase in the rate of investment during the second half of the year.

FS aims to become carbon neutral by 2050 through investments that progressively reduce CO2 emissions. Green bonds play an important role in FS’ strategy to purchase new, more sustainable trains, with €700m of these bonds issued in 2019, which reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% compared with the legacy fleet.

The total number of FS employees rose from 82,944 to 83,764, as a result of corporate acquisitions.

FS has further improved its financial strength, with equity of more than €42.3bn at the end of 2019, up €600m from 2018.

Rail infrastructure manager, Italian Rail Network (RFI), and road manager Anas, recorded a €308m profit in 2019.

FS says that in 2020, “the group will continue to follow its business plans in terms of revenue, net profit and investment, despite a macroeconomic and a competitive environment that is extremely complicated.”

The group says it is committed to restarting its activities with a targeted recovery programme that may warrent unusal measures in cooperation with other national and European institutions.