Train companies taking passengers for a ride

10 March 2016

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, says the privatised train operating companies are taking passengers – and taxpayers – for a ride after new figures from the Office of Rail Regulation revealed that profits – and dividends for shareholders – are soaring while fares continue to rise, too.

Mick said: ‘The companies are taking passengers, and taxpayers, for a ride. We now have the highest fares in Western Europe, much older rolling stock, and more overcrowded trains, than ever before. Privatisation has failed.

‘The government talks about competition but there is no competition. Each franchise is a private monopoly,there for the train company to exploit. They take millions from the government,from the taxpayer, and millions from passengers, to make a profit, at no risk,and pay their shareholders huge dividends.

‘If the railway was brought back into public ownership we could slash fares, and run public transport as a public service rather than to make a private profit for the few.’

The ORR report – GB Rail Industry Financial Information 2014-15 – reveals that:

£222 million were paid in train company dividends. That’s up from £183 million in 2013-14, an increase of 21%.

Great Western paid a dividend of £50 million. Government funding to run the GWR franchise (including Network Rail grant) was £271 million.

Income from passengers was£9.6 billion up from £9 billion (a 6% increase) while government funding was £3.5 billion.

In 2014-15, the rail industry received £13.5 billion of income; £8.8 billion (65%) from passenger fares while the government contributed a net total of £3.5 billion (26%). Train operators received £0.8 billion from car parking, on-board catering and other sources,and Network Rail received £0.4 billion from property, stations retail, freight and other customers.

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