Branson paid £18m in Virgin Rail dividend

SIR Richard Branson accrued a dividend of around £17.8m from his stake in Virgin Rail last year, accounts from its joint-owner show.

Virgin Rail, which has operated the West Coast Main Line service between London and Glasgow since 1997, is part-owned by Branson and Stagecoach.

Results published last week by the bus and rail operator Stagecoach, which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Rail, showed it had received a £17.1m dividend from the enterprise last year.

In turn, Branson – who owns a 51 per cent stake in the company – would have been paid a dividend of around £17.8m.

The payment brings the total that Branson has made from the railways since they were privatised to £188.8m.

“Virgin received no dividend from Virgin Trains for the first seven years, when hundreds of millions of pounds were invested to transform Britain’s railways. We now have a turnover of £750m a year and we are the fastest growing train operator in the country,” a spokesperson for Virgin told City A.M.

Stagecoach also confirmed that Virgin Rail is in talks with the government to extend its current franchise of the London to Glasgow line, which comes to an end next year.