Network Rail posts profits of £1bn but is still always late
But wait a minute (or perhaps more accurately, an hour and a half at Carlisle) - despite the whopping profit, Network Rail failed miserably to reach their punctuality target, with almost 730,000 trains running late last year.
What’s their excuse this time? Melted tracks? Leaves on the line? The driver’s in the toilet? No, according to CEO Mark Carne, it was because we’re all using the trains! He put their failure down to: ‘congestion as the railway witnessed growth of 5.7 per cent in passenger journeys during the year.’
He also mumbled about winter storms and all that – even though most of the damage to the rail network was covered by insurance.
But he did admit that an increase in commuter numbers, leading to packed carriages and irate angry mobs, posed a ‘challenge’ for the industry.
‘We need to do more to improve the reliability of the railway.’ He conceded. ‘We know we have to do better and we are very determined to address those issues so that we can provide the high quality of service that passengers expect.’
How about ploughing some of those lovely profits back in, then? Er, well, there’s a little problem with that. Network Rail owe a mountain of debt - £30bn in fact – due to massive upgrades to the Victorian infrastructure.
Hmm. Looks like we’re going to be late for work forever.