Railtrack chalks up £1.3 million-a-day profit

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The Independent Online

Much-criticised rail infrastructure company Railtrack today posted increased half-year pre-tax profits of more than £1.3 million a day.

Much-criticised rail infrastructure company Railtrack today posted increased half-year pre-tax profits of more than £1.3 million a day.

As it announced a profit of £236 million for April-September 1999, the company said that its £27 billion 10-year investment programme now looked "inadequate".

Chairman Sir Philip Beck said the company recognised that the publication of the results so soon after "the terrible" Paddington rail crash "could be interpreted as insensitive".

He added that he wanted to reassure bereaved families that everyone in the rail industry was "acutely conscious of how much they have suffered recently and wishes to do nothing to add to this".

The half-year result is a 5 per cent improvement on the £224 million posted by the company in April-September 1998.

Pressure group Save Our Railways said today's profit figure "confirmed that the taxpayers' subsidy to the rail industry is being scandalously misused".

Railtrack said the Paddington crash was "a watershed for the rail industry (and) we all need now to unite to deliver the improvements required to restore public confidence".

It added: "Understandably, the public reaction to the tragedy of Ladbroke Grove has been intense. Every day, our board, our employees, and those of the train operators and maintenance contractors, are focused on the delivery of a safe, reliable service.

"They are successful in delivering what is the safest form of surface transport in Britain, but clearly, the tragic consequences of this accident has caused every aspect of safety to be called into question."

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