State-run East Coast railway returns £200m

Marion Dakers
THE STATE-RUN East Coast Main Line handed more than £200m to the taxpayer last year as revenues rose.

The London-to-Scotland route was nationalised in 2009 after franchise operator National Express handed back the keys early, and is due to be put back in the private sector by February 2015 – a plan that has been opposed by the Labour party.

Directly Operated Railways, which runs the route on behalf of the state, said turnover rose 4.2 per cent to £690m in the year to the end of March, in line with rising ticket revenues. The group paid £208.7m in premium and dividend payments to the Department for Transport, up from £195.7m last year, and retained a profit of £4.1m.

“Notwithstanding prevailing market conditions, I am confident that the plans we have put in place will enable East Coast to continue to achieve sustainable growth during the year ahead,” said chairman Doug Sutherland in a statement.

DOR said it continues to work on reducing delays, but claimed that two-thirds of late-running services are caused by Network Rail, which looks after the tracks and signals. Just over 87 per cent of East Coast trains arrived on time in the three months to the end of June.