Overall statement of the Management Board regarding economic development
After economic development in Germany and Europe was still dampened by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2022, the impact of the pandemic continued to subside over the course of the year. In contrast, the war in Ukraine in 2022 had negative effects. Disruptions to supply chains, uncertainties in energy supply and high inflation rates, which result in massive cost increases and place a burden on private consumption, are expected to result in a stagnation of economic output in 2023, despite progress in containing the Covid-19 pandemic. New forms of work (for example mobile work) and the substitution of business trips with online formats became established on a large scale during the Covid-19 pandemic. In passenger transport, we therefore do not expect a return to the pre-Covid-19 growth path everywhere. In freight transport, growth is expected to recover only slightly.
Even if the recovery in passenger transport after the Covid-19 pandemic takes longer, the drivers of growth in public transport will continue to have an effect over the medium and long term. In particular, Europe and Germany’s climate policy targets cannot be achieved without a mobility transition in favor of public transport. Problems associated with road freight and passenger transport will become more important again on the political agenda once the difficult environmental conditions have been overcome. In addition to emissions of harmful substances, these problems also include the significant amount of land required by road vehicles, which many cities are no longer willing to grant. The introduction of a regional transport ticket valid throughout Germany (Germany-Ticket) is proof of the fact that there is a general will in politics to see a shift towards public transport.
For these reasons, the ramp-up of capital expenditures required to implement the growth targets of the Strong Rail strategy will be continued. This applies in particular in the area of infrastructure, where capital expenditures often only pay off after many years in the form of faster and more stable connections.
The further development of global trade in goods and, above all, freight rates in air and ocean freight is associated with high levels of uncertainty and may have a significant impact on profit development. Risks from the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to exist for 2023. It cannot be ruled out that, with the number of infections or new variants possibly rising, new measures may be taken that could have a negative impact on the demand for mobility and transport services. In addition, the further possible effects of the war in Ukraine are virtually impossible to assess. It is also difficult to estimate the medium-term development of the currently sharply increased level of inflation. The current strong price increase leads to high cost risks. In addition, it is currently scarcely possible to assess the effects of the collective bargaining negotiations in 2023. The Management Board believes that DB Group has taken the necessary measures to mitigate existing risks and to take advantage of potential opportunities.