Abellio generated a positive EBIT contribution from normal operations of € 43 million and a consolidated negative EBIT result of € 743 million due to non-recurring items. The net loss attributable to NS amounts to € 554 million. A net loss of € 203 million is attributable to minority shareholders. This year has been dominated by the € 786 million one-off effects on EBIT, made up of € 702 million for corona related provisions for potential Termination Sums and asset impairments in the UK and non-corona related asset impairments of € 84 million for rail contracts in Germany. The remaining cash-out exposure for NS relating to the attributable loss in UK is limited to its share of € 244 million in the undrawn parent company support guarantees for the related UK franchises. This is within capital at risk framework which has been agreed between the Dutch Ministry of Finance and NS.
In the UK the operation was profitable until the corona virus pandemic hit in March 2020, which resulted in a steep decline in passenger revenue. Until 2020 Abellio UK contributed some € 300 million in the cumulative net result. Existing rail franchise contracts in the UK, except for Merseyrail, have been amended by short-term emergency agreements from 1 March 2020 whereby revenue and cost risks have been fully taken over by the UK Government and operators can earn a management fee and performance based fee of between 1% to 2%. In 2020 Abellio received an additional UK government subsidy of € 1.5 billion to continue delivery of rail services. The UK government is in the process of transitioning the present franchising system to a management contract system and also reviewing the balance of risk and reward for operators, government and taxpayers.
A condition for entering into the current Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (“ERMA”, successor of EMA) and the subsequent expected direct award with the UK Department of Transport (“DfT”) was that the pre-existing franchise agreements would end at the expiry date of their respective ERMAs and that a termination sum may be payable to the DfT. It was anticipated that the potential Termination Sums would have been known prior to the financial year end but the process was extended by the DfT such that the Termination Sum will be known later in 2021. We have welcomed this extension given that we believe the preliminary estimates by the DfT will require adjustment. Given the weight of evidence provided to the DfT to validate the Abellio view of the profitable franchise projections pre- corona we expect the provisional Termination Sums to reduce and any reduction that will follow from the final agreement with the DfT will be reflected in 2021.
In Germany the direct financial impact of the corona pandemic has been limited because the risk of lost revenue sits with the Public Transport Authorities (“PTAs”), the clients of Abellio. However, as in previous years the German market is difficult to operate in due to external factors other than corona, such as increased infrastructure works, a new tariff agreement for train crew and labour market developments, which negatively influenced the results in 2020 and prior years. In combination with the costs of mobilising new concessions this resulted in a net loss in 2020 for the German operations of € 127 million, of which € 84 million is attributable to one-off impairment of assets. Abellio asked the PTAs to compensate for the impact of these external factors. It is essential for the continuation of the German activities to agree on a structural change in the compensation and penalty mechanisms. Abellio has been discussing this with the various local PTAs for some time. This has turned out to be a lengthy process because agreements often cannot be made at a national level. In 2020 base principles have been agreed. A decisive answer is expected in the first half of 2021 for the regions North Rhine-Westphalia and Central Germany.
Abellio UK (excl. Merseyrail)
Number of employees
Revenue (€ million) excluding intercompany
Number of railway contracts
In 2020, Abellio achieved a revenue of € 3.84 billion, of which € 3.10 billion was for Abellio UK (excluding its joint venture Merseyrail and including €1.52 billion of additional franchise support from the UK government to cover lost revenues due to corona), and € 744 million for Abellio Germany. Revenue has increased by € 404 million in 2020 driven by the addition of East Midlands in UK from August 2019 and a full year of operation of Stuttgarter Netz and S-Bahn Rhein-Ruhr in Germany. Abellio expects that revenue will further rise to approximately € 4 billion in 2021, albeit with a large movement from UK passenger income to government subsidy as a result of corona virus pandemic.