German railway engineering is in demand as never before. 15 billion euros stand for a new record of the order books of the German railway industry last year – a plus of around 58 percent compared to the previous year. The turnover of the sector which amounted to 12.3 billion euros has just missed the all-time high achieved in 2014. However, the infrastructure business has once more been on the downside of the balance. Notwithstanding the considerably increased funds from the government for maintaining the present railway network in 2015 there were no impulses whatsoever in this field. The number of staff was declining slightly by 0.6 percent to 52,000 employees. In view of the strong international competition the German Railway Industry Association (VDB) appeals to the federal government to support the sector by substantially improved framework conditions and a national railway research programme.
"The economic situation of the German railway industry developed well in 2015", said Volker Schenk, President of the VDB, on the annual press conference in Berlin. "German Engineering for the rail transport is in demand all over the world. We can be very satisfied with the new all-time high of the order situation." According to Schenk the result shows that "the railway industry is one of the flagship industries of our country."
The demand within Germany developed particularly strongly. With 7.8 billion euros it rose by 66 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year. Orders from abroad also went up noticeably by 50 percent to 7.2 billion euros. The orders received for rail vehicles and their components and subsystems increased particularly sharply in 2015, by around 86 percent to nearly twelve billion euros. The demand of the German market exceeded the international demand of 5.8 billion euros with 6.1 billion euros. In contrast to that the orders received for infrastructure equipment was disappointing again. It stagnated on the level of the previous year of 3.1 billion euros. whilst the demand from abroad rose slightly by nearly eight percent to 1.4 billion euros. However, the orders for infrastructure equipment altogether were on an unchanged low level.
The turnover last year decreased slightly by 1.6 percent, but remained on a very high level with 12.3 billion euros. The domestic business developed slightly less strongly. It dropped by three percent to 6.5 billion euros. The international business remained stable at 5.8 billion euros. The business with rail vehicles and their components went down by 3.2 percent to 9.2 billion euros.
Growth area of services
The German manufacturers were able to win quite a number of large orders in 2015. There was for example the national order for the Rhine-Ruhr-Express (RRX) with altogether 82 electric multiple units for the regional transport. For the first time in a German railway transport project the industry will take over the maintenance of the trains to a large extent – for 32 years. The order has an overall volume of 1.7 billion euros of which 900 million euros will be due to the maintenance and repair of the trains.
Therefore the business segment for services of the railway industry was particularly spurred by that large order. The volume of the orders amounted to more than four billion euros and thus achieved a share of 27 percent in the total orders in 2015. The turnover amounted to 1.6 billion euros, a plus of more than 13 percent. Schenk: "What is a matter of course for many of our companies, for example in Great Britain – to offer the continuous maintenance and repair together with the trains as a package – this promising philosophy has gained acceptance on a large scale for the first time in Germany thanks to the RRX order. Services will be a central growth area of the future for our sector."
"The companies of the German railway industry follow with great interest the further digitalisation", explained Ben Möbius, Chief Executive Officer of the VDB. "Electronic signal boxes, automated driving, control and safety systems, state-oriented maintenance systems – all these developments contribute to making the system of the railway more efficient, more climate-friendly and more comfortable. Necessary for that is, however, the promotion of innovation", demanded Möbius. "And innovations can only develop their advantages if they are used. It is therefore important to promote research more offensively, implement shop window projects in Germany and act jointly in a better concerted action."
The German Railway Industry Association (VDB) unites the manufacturers of all products for the railway operation – i.e. manufacturers of vehicles, control and safety technologies, infrastructure as well as the suppliers and service companies belonging to them – under its roof. VDB organises the expert exchange of experiences of the members and bundles the interests of the branch. What will become more and more important for the future and has already been important so far, is the representation of interests towards politics, customers, media, financial institutions and other associations – both nationally and internationally. In addition to that VDB is engaged in a fair and cooperative business relation between the system houses and the supplying industry. All this is strengthening the association and thus the whole railway industry. It is an alliance for a promising future.