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Rail operator East Coast back on track
CAMPAIGNERS against the privatisation of the York-based East Coast rail operation say profits of £208.7 million should be kept in the public purse.
Sales of £693.8 million were reported yesterday by Directly Operated Railways (DOR), the company set up by Government in 2009 to run the line between London and Scotland after National Express lost the franchise.
The profits came before Department for Transport service payments and taxation, which reduced the figure to £5.9 million.
Turnover was up 4.2 per cent on the previous year.
Commenting on the results, Doug Sutherland, chairman of DOR, said: “During the year, we continued to make further good progress with the business turnaround of East Coast, and we were able to achieve the best train punctuality on line since records began in the summer of 2012, the best customer satisfaction result in the Passenger Focus autumn 2012 National Passenger Survey since rail privatisation in 1993, and the highest level of employee engagement of any previous franchisee on the East Coast Main Line.
“East Coast remains Britain’s busiest train operator, with average loads per train exceeding 225 customers, which is more than 36 per cent ahead of the next busiest operator.
“DOR is continuing to invest in the East Coast business, and from November 2009 to date, some £48 million has been reinvested directly in the business, on improving its assets, delivering the introduction of new and improved customer service benefits, and in people and training.”
The results will prove an attractive proposition to a number of international and domestic operators set to make bids for the franchise as Government looks to transfer it to a new private operator in February 2015.
However campaigners against the privatisation say the company’s success should be used to boost the Treasury.
York Central MP Hugh Bayley, who has been calling for the franchise to be kept in public hands, said: “I am still urging the Government not to refranchise the East Coast main line.
“It is better to give the public sector operator a long-term licence to run the service so that a far comparison can be made between it and the privately operated West Coast.
“These results show that a publicly owned operation can deliver a good service and an excellent financial return to the tax payer.”
Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union, said: “These figures destroy from top to bottom the Government’s case for handing the East Coast back to the rip-off merchants from the private sector.
“DOR are paying even more money back to the Treasury, in contrast to the fat profits extracted from the privatised routes, and yet the politicians are prepared to completely ignore that.”
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