Posted 3rd June 2010 | No Comments

Network Rail profits and revenue fall 'as expected'

NETWORK Rail has revealed that its profits and revenue have fallen in the last financial year, in line with the expectations of the Office of Rail Regulation, which has reduced track access charges. Chief executive Iain Coucher said he is watching the progress of government cuts, but does not expect any changes to NR budgets.

NR's annual rate of return from track access charges has been reduced by the ORR and now stands at 4.8 percent, compared with 6.5 per cent over the past three years. In practice, the cost to operators of a passenger journey has fallen by an average of 22p, while freight rates have dropped by a third.

As a result, revenue fell to £5,668 million (previously £6,160 million) but post-tax profits fell much more sharply to £284 million (previously £609 million).

Net operating costs rose to £3,687 million (previously £3,616 million). NR said this was mainly due to increased staff costs, which were nevertheless lower than inflation.

But debts have risen as well, to £23,838 million (previously £22,307 million). NR said this was to fund its programme of investment, and remained 'well within permitted limits'.

The company has continued its pursuit of efficiencies, partly by reducing the maintenance workforce by 1,500. Most of these jobs are being shed by natural wastage or voluntary redundancies, but the cuts remain the cause of a continuing dispute with the RMT and TSSA.

A planned series of strikes in the week following Easter was suspended after the High Court ruled that signallers' strikes called during the same period would be illegal, because of flaws in the ballot.

So far, the unions have been silent about any further action.