Network Rail increases profit but debts soar

 
Kasmira Jefford
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NETWORK RAIL saw profits after tax almost double in the year to the end of March, but debt soared by £2.2bn after major projects such as the Thameslink programme put pressure on funds.

The company, which owns most of Britain’s rail network infrastructure, said that profit after tax rose to £754m in the period from £313m the previous year, on revenues of £6bn compared with £5.71bn.

But net debt increased from just under £25.05bn to £27.28bn in the period, which the company said was due to its continuing investment into projects including the new concourse at King’s Cross station.

Patrick Butcher, finance director, said the group was making “steady progress” in meeting efficiency targets, which require it to cut costs by 22 per cent between 2009 to 2014.

The group, which receives £4bn of taxpayer funding each year, said its financial performance during that time meant it had been able to return £153m to the UK and Scottish governments.

Network Rail said it had added a million more train services a year while punctuality also improved, with 91.6 per cent of all trains arriving on time compared to 90.9 per cent in the previous year.

But Butcher admitted “it had more to do” – particularly on long distance journeys – after it was recently warned by the Office of Rail Regulation being to make improvements or faces fines of £42m.