The DfT lends Network Rail millions every day. But it's ok, the rail network is going to last for longer...

 
Oliver Gill
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Network Rail owns some railways stations alongside more general rail infrastructure (Source: Getty)

Over £9m of public money is being lent every day to the company that runs Britain's ageing rail infrastructure.

Network Rail drew down £1.6bn from a department for transport (DfT) facility over the last six months according to the company's – or non-departmental government body's – half-year accounts.

This was on top of the £1.9bn of grant income it received from the DfT over the period.

Read more: Grayling plotting to crack open Network Rail monopoly

Previously, Network Rail raised debt by issuing corporate bonds, of which the company still has £29bn outstanding. From July 2014, it started borrowing directly from the DfT as a result of it being reclassified as a public sector entity.

As the bonds mature and need to be repaid, Network Rail must draw against the DfT facility. Network Rail's total debt across all facilities stood at a staggering £43.9bn.

Network Rail: six month titbits

£3.3bn – the total investment spend over the period. The highest on record
£352m – collateral received by Network Rail from counterparties in relation to derivative investments
£600,000 – property income received from British Transport Police
£945m – the interest cost for servicing borrowing over the period

Revenues over the half-year to 30 September were flat compared with the previous year, at £3.1bn. Profits over the six months were up as a result of a lower depreciation charge.

Read more: Nationalise the railways? Quite the opposite says think tank

After a "detailed and rigorous" rigorous review of the assets Network Rail holds – in other words, the railways and some of Britain's stations – it was decided they will last much longer than previously expected.

Whereas previously Network Rail concluded its assets will last 30 years, it told the DfT in October they will be last a third longer and lengthened their "useful economic life" to 40 years. As a result, the assets will depreciate over a longer period, boosting profits by £249m over the six month period.

Read more: Costs of the Great Western railway project have surged £2.1bn since 2013

Another notable cost-saving related to the police. Network Rail was billed £1m by the British Transport Police, compared with £42m over the same six months in 2015.

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