With a 25% reduction in supply, but with a 95% drop in revenues, CP is running out of money. Trains run empty (except for a small number of suburban people during rush hour in the morning) and ticket offices do not generate revenue. On the contrary. The company had to inject money into its own ticket offices in order to be able to pay reimbursements to customers for purchased and missed trips. On Friday, the Cash Money reported that in four weeks CP returned one million euros to customers.
In order to pay the salaries for March and April, the company was authorized by the Government to use the balance of the 2019 management account, which is usually captivated by Finance. An amount that CP did not want to disclose, but which will be between 20 and 30 million euros, the PUBLIC learned.
For May, however, this slack disappears and should not be filled by any substantial increase in revenues, even if some restrictions on the movement of people are lifted in the context of combating the covid-19 pandemic.
Taking into account the company’s report and accounts for 2018 (2019 is not yet available), personnel costs amount to 7.5 million euros per month. Revenue from ticket sales is around 21.5 million euros per month, but at the moment it will be reduced to just over one million euros.
The PUBLIC asked the Ministries of Infrastructure and Finance what the solution was, but got no answer. However, there are only two possible solutions, apart from the possibility that the company behaves like TAP or private road companies ordering the fleet to stop and placing its staff in layoff. One is the use of a Treasury loan and the other is the return to compensatory payments.
The first implies the payment of interest and the second represents the return to what the company deemed definitively removed when on 28 November it signed a public service contract with the State that established the counterparts for public service obligations.
At that time, the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, said that this contract would guarantee greater predictability and transparency in the management of the CP, cutting back on decades when administrations had to “ask for chips” from the State.
But that is what continues to happen. The document was signed and should have come into force on 1 January, but the Court of Auditors had some doubts, did not give him the visa and returned it to CP. The latter answered the questions and sent it to the Ministry of Finance in February, where it is still located.
In this way, CP was in limbo: it does not have the contract in force (nor the receipts foreseen therein) nor the “potato chips”, that is, the compensatory damages that – irregularly, without a regulatory framework – it would receive from the State, over the last few years. This gap occurs at precisely the worst time, with the effects of the pandemic leaving the company’s treasury in a dramatic situation.
The Ministry of Finance did not respond to questions from the PUBLIC as to whether the public service contract, when approved, will have retroactive effects to 1 January nor whether there will be a return (which seems inevitable) to compensatory damages.
Rush hour is short and early in the morning
Workers in the least qualified professions and who have strict schedules for entering companies make up the majority of passengers on the few suburban trains that still run full. The morning rush hour has been reduced to a narrow time slot that lasts between six and eight in the morning.
In railway slang, the “Sonae train” is known, which leaves at 6:50 am from Santa Apolónia (6:59 am in the East) and transports workers to that company’s logistics center in Espadanal da Azambuja and also to the companies that now occupy the former factory complex. from Opel. The same train that takes Luís Simões workers to Carregado and to various logistics platforms in Vila Nova da Rainha.
Before and after this train, the suburban people of Azambuja have been practically empty since the country is in a state of emergency. On the Sintra Line, the phenomenon occurs with trains that leave that village at 5:36 am and 6:06 am and arrive in Sete Rios, respectively, at 6:09 am and 6:39 am. They are workers who have to enter jobs at the right time because those who have liberal professions and work in the services stayed at home in telework. This explains that the rush hour, which usually went on until 10 am, ended almost before eight in the morning.
The same phenomenon occurs on Fertagus trains, whose rush hour lasted until 9 am and now occurs mainly between 6:30 am and 7:30 am.