ÖBB freight branch’s 2009 turnover deep in the red

Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) supervisory board chief Horst Pöchhacker revealed today (Weds) the firm’s freight business department suffered operative losses of 100 million Euros last year.Pöchhacker said in a radio interview: “Turnover dropped by 500 million Euros due to the exceptional crisis last year, but we already managed to save around 400 million Euros.”He claimed these measures would mean the company will make profits as soon as the economy recovers.Pöchhacker also said the ÖBB’s passenger services business and its infrastructure department had been in the black last year.Asked what he thought of new ÖBB boss Christian Kern amid reports he earns around a fifth more than his predecessor Peter Klugar, Pöchhacker said: “Kern will be worth his money.”The ÖBB supervisory board head argued the Austrian state-holding company ÖIAG would pay much more. He added Kern was facing “a lot of responsibility and a lot of stress” at ÖBB.Kern, who will officially replace Klugar from June, yesterday announced his main goal was to increase customers’ satisfaction.He said: “I want Austrians to be proud of the ÖBB like the Swiss are of their railway service, for example.”While neighbouring Switzerland is regarded as having the best public transport and railway system in the world, ÖBB has been accused for years of mismanagement for failing to get into the black. Reports claim several fatal accidents could have been avoided had the company not lowered its safety standards and cut back on investing in staff education courses.