Ljubljana, 22 November (STA) - Slovenian railways operator Slovenske zeleznice reported better-than-expected results for the first nine months to the supervisory board on Monday. The net loss at the state-owned company stood at EUR 8.7m, down from EUR 23.5m in the same period last year.
The result is also nearly EUR 13m better than planned by the management board headed by Goran Brankovic.
Presenting the figures to the press, Brankovic said that solid operations are continuing as the railways operator was on track to register its best month on record in November.
Brankovic explained that the improvement in the company's operations was a result of a stronger showing in cargo.
"Cargo revenues are up 23% over last year and are beating plans by 16%."
Nevertheless, the division is still making a loss - for the first nine months it stood at EUR 12.7m - albeit a much smaller one than last year, when it stood at EUR 30m.
He said the cargo division had been propped up by somewhat higher prices and the economic recovery in Europe.
The net loss in cargo for the year is expected to stand at EUR 15m, said Brankovic, adding that the company was expected to carry 17m tonnes of cargo this year.
To break even the operator would have to carry 19m tonnes of cargo, but this is difficult to attain due to infrastructure limitations.
Nevertheless, Brankovic expects cargo volumes to increase to 18m tonnes next year and 19m in 2012.
Meanwhile, nine-month results in passenger transport are also better than those of last year, although they lag behind the management's plan. The profit in this division through the first three quarters stood at EUR 500,000.
Brankovic said the company had managed to cut labour costs by 6.2% or EUR 8.5m in the first nine months of this year compared to a year ago.
The workforce at the railways operator is expected to be trimmed to 6,869 by the end of the year, which is 11% less than last year.
"We're only 50 people shy of our plan and we expect that by the end of the year we will be ahead of the plan."
Meanwhile, Brankovic would not say how much the company earned from a shipment of spent nuclear fuel that was transported across Slovenia by train at the weekend.
The fuel came from the Vinca research reactor near Belgrade. It was loaded on to a ship at the port of Koper headed for Russia where it will be processed.