Rising electricity prices cost the railway company NMBS tens of millions of euros. “NMBS estimates the total additional costs compared to 2020 at more than 61.5 million euros,” Mobility Minister George Gilkennett (Ecolo) said at the Mobility Chamber committee on Wednesday.
NMBS expects electricity costs to pull trains (i.e. to run trains) more than €51.1 million this year compared to 2020. And non-traction costs (energy consumption in buildings and the like) are Gilkennett estimated at more than €10 million, answered a question from MP Thomas Rugemann (N-VA). Estimates go back to before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.
The Minister is consulting with NMBS and the government to find out how to offset these additional costs. In the case of railways, the operator of the rail network Infrabel enters into a contract with an energy supplier. NMBS’s power volumes are purchased through this contract and invoiced to the Swiss National Bank (SNCB).
Gilkinet noted efforts by rail companies to switch to more sustainable energy sources. For example, a “large portion” of the electricity consumed by SNCB and Infrabel is generated by green energy, such as wind turbines. More than 23,000 solar panels have already been installed on rooftops and workshops, and consideration is being given to installing them on railway bridges.
Business newspapers L’Echo and De Tijd write that higher energy prices are weighing on the NMBS results, along with the drop in travelers due to the Corona crisis and the wage index. The railway company is said to have incurred losses of 400 million euros last year. And this year, there will still be a gap of 200 million euros, while it was previously supposed to lose 30-40 million euros.
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