LONG-SUFFERING rail passengers’ subsidy of profiteering operators was laid bare yesterday by official figures revealing last year’s £2.3 billion net price tag of the largely privatised network.
Publicly owned East Coast — now earmarked for privatisation — was one of just three in 15 franchises that actually made money for the Treasury in the last year.
It generated £206.8 million for the public purse last year, which after deducting subsidies leaves the Treasury £19.9m richer.
But all the rest are heavily funded by the public, with Northern Rail the most expensive at 51.5 pence per passenger mile, sucking up a total of £707.3m in subsidies last year.
Private rail firms are handed grants by the government and then pay back some of the cash from revenues — but not before skimming off a juicy multimillion-pound profit for themselves.
Rail union RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: “Whichever way these numbers are carved-up and spun they show that rail franchising is a one-way ticket to the bank for the private train companies.”