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Record 2017 for Deutsche Bahn but late train blues persist

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Frankfurt am Main (AFP)

German state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn booked record revenues and passenger numbers in 2017, but poor punctuality worsened by a spate of bad weather remains a sore spot.

The red-and-white-liveried company added 3.2 million passengers compared with 2016, transporting some 142 million people by rail in Germany.

Revenues at the group grew 5.2 percent year-on-year to reach 42.7 billion euros ($49.0 billion), for a 6.8-percent increase in net profit to 765 million euros.

"We've kept our word and delivered" on financial results, chief executive Richard Lutz said in a statement.

Nevertheless, "the satisfying numbers can't hide the fact that we need to do more on quality and punctuality" of services," he acknowledged.

DB reported some 94.1 percent of services arrived within five minutes of their scheduled time in 2017.

But on its flagship long-distance network, the figure dropped to just 78.5 percent, as heavy storms in autumn and teething troubles on a vital new high-speed line between Berlin and Munich made themselves felt.

Improving punctuality rather than profits at the state-owned firm will be vital to achieving the goal of doubling passenger numbers by 2030 set by Chancellor Angela Merkel's new government.

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