SWISS rail freight operator BLS Cargo has released its results for 2020 with turnover down 5.5% at SFr 277m ($US 295.4m) and full year profits of SFr 1.9m.
While traffic levels were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, especially during the first series of lockdowns from March 2020, cost control helped maintain profitability. As a profitable company BLS Cargo waived the opportunity to access Swiss federal government pandemic economic relief funds.
During 2020 BLS Cargo operated 10% fewer trains than in 2019 - 19,956 compared with 22,265 in 2019 - as lockdowns, especially in Italy, led to factory closures for extended periods reducing demand for raw materials, components and the transport of finished goods. Infrastructure work on the BLS-owned Lötschberg route in summer 2020 also depressed traffic volumes.
During 2020 BLS Cargo integrated the activities of Crossrail Benelux, which it acquired in 2019. The former Crossrail organisation is now an operating subsidiary for Belgium and Germany, leading to the operation of longer distance trains by BLS Cargo, for example connecting Belgium with Italy with a single locomotive. During the year, 10 additional Siemens Vectron MS locomoitves were added to the BLS Cargo fleet for such long-distance cross-border traffic.
Despite ongoing pandemic lockdowns and restrictions in some countries BLS Cargo has not experienced such a significant fall in freight traffic in 2021 compared with 2020.