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DOR returns almost £217m to the taxpayer

Directly Operated Railways (DOR) has returned almost £217m to the taxpayer in premium and dividend payments, its annual report has stated.

The company, which runs East Coast for the Department for Transport, made a pre-tax operating profit of £225.3m for 2013-2014. Of that figure £216.8m has gone to DfT.

Doug Sutherland, chairman of DOR, said: “During the year, we continued to make further good progress with the business turnaround of East Coast, and at 91%, we were able to achieve the top customer satisfaction result for a long-distance franchised rail operator, in the 2014 spring wave Passenger Focus National Rail Passenger Survey, matching the result of the autumn 2013 survey.”

DOR exists to manage franchises that are temporarily returned to public ownership. The East Coast Main Line franchise was nationalised in 2009 after National Express, which previously ran it, could no longer afford to do so after rising fuel prices and economic downturn and reneged on its franchise.

It is planned that that the East Coast franchise will transfer to a new private operator in March 2015. However Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, believes that the line is better off in public hands.

"These latest results from East Coast prove conclusively that a publicly-run railway benefits both the taxpayer and passengers,” he said. "This firm will have paid £1 bn to the Treasury by the time it is sold off next March to the highest private bidder. This is all about Tory dogma rather than running a social railway for the benefit of the public."

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and the train operators, disagreed, saying: “DOR has done a vital job of operating the East Coast franchise until it is re-let, but as the rail regulator has stated, the differences in train operating costs mean financial results cannot be used in isolation to draw conclusions about the performance of individual operators.

“However, it remains the case that East Coast is just one of a number of operators making payments to government. Latest figures for 2013-14 show the biggest payment was made by private operator South West Trains, which paid over £300m.”

(Image: c. Alvey & Towers. East Coast, June 2013)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Ian Dinmore   12/09/2014 at 12:16

And if DOR had paid the full true cost of track access, it would show that they lost £402M? in future a greater share of the true track access cost needs to be shown in the accounts. However, such true charges would put off any company bidding for a franchise. The simplest thing would be a percentage of any TOC profit being used to off set the true cost of track access or to reduce the unsustainable Network Rail RAB? The Rail Archive.

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