Profit jumps at under fire Network Rail


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The Independent Online

Although its performance on the tracks may not be quite up to scratch, Network Rail put in a strong financial performance last year, as pre-tax profits jumped by 8 per cent.

A week after the regulator condemned Network Rail for its "unacceptable" levels of late and cancelled train services, the operator and manager of tracks, bridges, tunnels, signalling and some stations reported a £471m pre-tax profit for the year to 31 March. Revenues increased by 5 per cent to £6bn, while operating costs declined 5 per cent to £2.34bn.

The government-backed rail infrastructure group reported a substantial, £2.2bn increase in its net debts for the year to £27.3bn over the year.

Patrick Butcher, Network Rail's finance director, admitted the debt was "certainly a big sum" but put much of the rise down to major new infrastructure projects such as the London Thameslink and the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street.

But despite rising profits and spending, Network Rail is out of favour with the Office of Rail Regulation, which threatened it with a £42m fine for late-running, long-distance trains unless it improves punctuality over the next two years.