East Coast rail line returns £225m to taxpayers

 

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The Independent Online

The state-run East Coast rail line returned £225.3m to the taxpayer in premiums and profits last year, the Government announced yesterday.

That was up from a £202.8m contribution to the Treasury in premium and dividend payments last year, and means a post-tax profit of £6.2m.

Directly Operated Railways, the state-owned group that was parachuted in to rescue the line in 2009, saw a 4.5 per cent rise in ticket sales, while also achieving the top customer satisfaction result and having the happiest staff of all the long-distance rail operators.

But the Government is planning on reprivatising the East Coast route next March. Unions have demonstrated against those plans, claiming the East Coast is doing well and should not be privatised.

Labour has said if it won the next election state-run operators could challenge private firms for rail contracts.

Turnover on the route from London to Scotland for the year to April hit £720m, up from £693.8m a year earlier, mostly due to higher revenues from ticket sales and greater earnings from catering and car parks. A total of 19.9 million passenger journeys were made with East Coast during the year – an increase of 4.5 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Doug Sutherland, the chairman of Directly Operated Railways, said: “We have continued to make further good progress with the business turnaround of East Coast, and at 91 per cent, we were able to achieve the top customer satisfaction result for a long-distance franchised rail operator.”

He added: “Significant investment in depot facilities and the capabilities of the engineering team has led to improving availability and reliability of the fleet, and as a consequence, the number of cancellations has reduced and delays attributable to fleet performance has improved.

“Operational performance has begun to show signs of very significant improvement.”

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