Hasty BR sale cost taxpayers millions

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The Independent Online
THE last Tory Government's eagerness to sell off British Rail's operations as quickly as possible cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds, a report by the National Audit office revealed yesterday.

The Department of Transport received pounds 1.8 billion from the sale of the three rolling stock leasing companies. Yet within months they were re- sold for a total of pounds 2.65 billion in deals which made multi-millionaires of some managers, writes Randeep Ramesh, Transport Correspondent.

The first sale - of Porterbrook leasing in 1996 to bus giant Stagecoach - came just 7 months after it was privatised. The deal made Porterbrook's managing director Sandy Anderson more than pounds 33m.

According to the NAO report: "The speed with which such significant gains were realised were unusual". The last administration also vetoed any "profit tax" that could have seen any quick gains returned to the taxpayer.

The report also highlights concerns that under the current framework, no new trains can easily be rented.

"The Franchising director has serious concerns that bidders for new franchises will have little alternative but to lease the majority of the existing stock in use," the report says.