Network Rail posts profits of £1bn but is still always late

Network rail There may be some plastic cups of warm cava being drunk at the Network Rail offices tonight, as it announces a profit of £1bn.

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.


  • jt
    How much of that was government subsidy?
  • supermacinroe
    Network Rail is a not for dividend company so all profits are indeed reinvested into the railway, like you suggest. The actual figures, including debt repayment, (which is already taken into consideration in the profit/loss calculations) are available on the company's website. SM
  • supermacinroe
    jt - Network Rail's funding is roughly (very roughly) half grant and half track access charges from operators. The profit is made up of savings from bringing in projects under budget, operating economies and other businesses such as its property portfolio. Once again, there is no dividend so all profits (surplus if you prefer) are reinvested in the railway and don't go back to the Treasury. It's a shame this article does not try and explain that.

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