2018 Integrated Report – On track towards a better Railway

Development of business units

Positive general framework

German freight transport market continues to grow

In 2018, the German freight transport market grew for the sixth consecutive year.

Rail continues to grow

In 2018 the Federal Statistical Office of Germany carried out a comprehensive, retroactive revision of the reporting scope for the rail freight transport statistics from 2016 onwards and in doing so performed a qualitative revision. The deviations that occurred up until that date, for example compared to the results of the market observation by the BNetzA and in the developments in train-path kilometers as re­­ported by DB Netz AG, were largely clarified and now provide a much improved picture of actual development on the German rail freight transport market.

The volume sold of freight railways in Germany increased more strongly than in the previous year under a highly competitive environment while taking into account the ex­­pansion of the reporting scope. The market share for rail showed a slight positive development, supported by the heavy losses of inland waterway transport.

  • Alongside positive economic stimulation overall, it was also supported by a baseline effect following several weeks of closure of the Rhine Valley section at Rastatt in the previous year and shifts due to restrictions in inland waterway transport.
  • Dampening effects resulted from factors such as the con­­tinued decline in coal transport as a result of the energy transition, as well as portfolio adjustments by the energy producers, problems in the automotive industry due to new measurement procedures to determine exhaust gas emissions, weak steel production, strikes in France, restrictions due to storms and resource issues.
  • The development of individual types of goods could not be quantified through the changes to the reporting scope as made by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. A strong growth contribution is expected for com­­­­­­bined transport. This was supported by non-Group rail­­ways, which, as in recent years, recorded an above-­average per­­formance increase overall.
  • The DB Group share in the rail freight transport market declined further, bringing the share more or less on the same level with that of non-Group railways.

Road gains further market share

The development of road freight transport became even more dynamic. Its market position was further extended.

  • According to toll statistics issued by the Federal Agency for Freight Transport (Bundesamt für Güter­verkehr; BAG), vehicles registered abroad, particularly trucks from Po­­land, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria, showed above-average growth once again. The share of vehicles registered abroad in growing cross-­­border trans­­port is currently estimated at over 90%. It also gained in­­creas­­ing importance in cabotage transports with double-digit growth rates.
  • The truck market in 2018 was marked by increasing constraints on available resources. Alongside increasing staff costs, significant increases in diesel costs and the expansion of truck tolls to cover the entire long-distance highway system led to marked cost increases.
  • The performance development was supported by sustained positive stimulation from the construction sector, dynamic domestic and international demand for consumer and industrial goods, and by shifts from other modes of transport due to weather- and quality-related restrictions.

Inland waterways

Inland waterway transport showed very negative development. The market share fell and reached a historical low.

  • Following on from the heavy losses in the first quarter of 2017 due to low water levels, 2018 recorded a strong start to the year for waterway transport. In spite of this, the repeated restrictions resulting from several months of low water levels throughout the waterway network significantly halted development. In the last third of 2018 performance fell by over 40% at times.
  • Cross-border traffic, which has a share of about 80% of overall performance, was affected with particular sever­­ity. The Rhine, by far the most important waterway for inland waterway transport, reached its lowest ever recorded water levels in October 2018, at about 30 cm at the Kaub gauge (Middle Rhine). Above-average drops were recorded in the coal and coke/mineral oil products division.

European rail freight transport market above previous year’s level

Volume sold in European rail freight transport (EU 28, Switzerland and Norway) showed a slightly weaker increase in 2018 compared to the previous year. The performance increase was supported by strong global demand for capital goods and the revival of production in Europe and of European trade. Positive momentum was generated mainly from transport through the North Sea ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg. Combined transport made a strong growth contribution once again. There was also strain due to the sustained decline in development within coal and due to the major strikes in France.

Among the top railways in Europe, PKP Cargo was able to increase its volume sold most significantly compared to the previous year. In the European DB Cargo network, volume sold remained lower than in the previous year. The reason for this is the weak development in Western and 
Central Europe.

European land transport shows growth

  • The European land transport market reported strong growth in 2018, with DB Schenker continuing to assert its position as market leader.
  • Increasing volumes at increasing sale prices led to revenue growth despite changes in the shipping structure for lower shipment weights.
  • The risks due to various cost drivers persist: changes in the shipping structure (weight decreases, more flexible transport requirements) led to cost increases, more rises in carrier costs and a further lack of drivers.

Air freight remains a growth market

  • The international air freight market again showed solid growth in 2018. Although this development was considerably weaker than in the previous year, there was still clear growth. The first quarter of 2018 was still positively influenced by the extremely strong growth in 2017, after which point general development flattened out somewhat before finally becoming negative in the fourth quarter of 2018.
  • The economic environment and the continued e-commerce trend also had a favorable impact.
  • The markets in North Asia and Western Europe showed particularly good trends, with the main driver being automobile and chemical goods transport, while other industries also recorded positive growth. The strongest growth in terms of tonnage was on the trade route between Asia and Europe. This was also reflected in global rate development, which severely collapsed in the first quarter after the peak season in 2017, and subsequently demonstrated consistent recovery from the second to fourth quarters.
  • DB Schenker recorded volume growth in air freight compared to the previous year.

Ocean freight grows compared to previous year

  • The global growth of container ocean freight in 2018 was at the level of the previous year. Volume growth was recorded on all major routes. Intra-Asia recorded the highest volume growth at about 5.7%. The Asia — Europe trade route grew by about 3.5%.
  • Despite increasing fuel prices in the first quarter of 2018, freight rates remained relatively constant through­­out the year. Transpacific trade is an exception to this, with freight rates strongly rising in the second half of the year. This is largely due to the threat of a tariff war be­­tween the USA and China.
  • DB Schenker increased its volume of ocean freight compared to the previous year.

Persisting momentum in contract logistics

  • The global market for contract logistics continued to show above-average growth in 2018. The figures for Asia/Pacific, the Americas and Europe were above ex­­pectations. Thanks to a high volume of new business contracts in these regions, this trend will continue despite slight economic slowdown.
  • The vertical markets of electronics and industrial/aerospace are considerable drivers of this development, while consumer/retail stagnated in 2018.