CIÉ chairwoman warns of 'significant challenges' after fall in revenue last year
Revenues at State transport group CIÉ fell by 0.6 per cent last year to €707.8 million, according to its 2011 annual report, published yesterday.
As reported by The Irish Times on Wednesday, CIÉ made a loss of €6.1 million for the year while its auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), warned about its ability to continue as a going concern given its level of liabilities and concerns over its future funding and trading prospects.
Chairman Vivienne Jupp said CIÉ was facing “some of the most significant financial challenges in its history” but she was “confident” the business could be stabilised.
“Only through a continued focus on cost reduction and growing the business will we succeed,” Ms Jupp added.
She said there were “encouraging signs” that passenger numbers are stabilising. “However, the outlook remains a challenging one,” Ms Jupp said.
A spokesman for CIÉ confirmed that it is progressing a number of options for asset disposals to help raise finance for the business. It expects to confirm “significant developments” by the year end.
He said Iarnród Éireann reached agreement with its staff in the summer and is now working on generating further efficiencies in the business.
Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann are in “advanced” talks with staff at the Labour Relations Commission.
Voluntary severance has been offered primarily at Iarnród Éireann.
So far in 2012, 77 staff have left and more than 100 others are expected to leave before the year end. This will bring staff numbers to below 4,000.
Seeking fare increases
The spokesman also confirmed that it is awaiting a determination from the National Transport Authority on increasing single and return fares.
“In the context of continuing reductions in [state-funded] PSO payments, it is envisaged that further fare increases will be sought in future years,” he added.
CIÉ companies have already been given the green light to increase fares by up to 10.3 per cent for monthly and annual tickets.
While the auditors did not qualify CIÉ accounts, PwC included an “emphasis of matter” note relating to the group’s ability to continue as a going concern. It noted that at the end of 2011, CIÉ had net current liabilities of €394.1 million, of which €77.8 million was bank borrowings.
“Management’s current projections show that the group will incur further deficits in the period 2012, 2013 and 2014, with a return to profitability expected in 2015 and 2016,” PwC stated.
Iarnród Éireann revenue declined last year by 2.3 per cent to €185.8 million and it recorded a loss of €21.9 million.
Dublin Bus’s revenue was €3.9 million lower at €178.3 million while it made a loss of €18.2 million.
Bus Éireann made a surplus of €500,000 after exceptional items. Its revenues fell marginally to €283.7 million.