Network Rail hails railway ‘renaissance’ despite punctuality fall

A Network Rail. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

A Network Rail. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Network Rail (NR) said it was witnessing a 'renaissance' on the railways today after rising passengers number sparked a 38.5pc increase in its pre-tax profits to £1.035bn.

But while passenger numbers were up 5.7pc to 1.6bn, the infrastructure giant missed its punctuality target of 92.5pc – recording 0.9pc fall to 90pc.

NR said its determination could not afford to waver in its quest to restore record high levels of punctuality while investing £2.2bn on rail improvements and expansions across the east.

More than £430m was invested in improving and expanding Britain's rail network in East Anglia over the last 12 months, NR said as it revealed its full-year results for the 2013/14 financial year.

Abellio Greater Anglia has seen overall passenger growth on its network from 105.8m journeys in 2010 to 124.4m journeys in 2013, while this year 37.8m passengers used c2c services compared to 35m in 2010.

It comes as the company's chief executive Mark Carne warned the House of Commons Transport Committee earlier this week that train fares remained a 'major concern' for the travelling public.

He said NR 'did not do a good enough job' on improving train reliability in the period 2009 to 2014 and that safety, reliability, coping with the growth of passengers and reducing rail costs were the four main challenges it faced.

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Richard Schofield, NR route managing director, said: 'We are in the middle of a rail renaissance with record levels of passenger numbers and record levels of investment. This flourishing sector is investing heavily to improve the railway for today, and for the rail users of tomorrow.

'With more trains on the network than 10 years ago, there are inevitable challenges - we are determined to do more to improve train reliability in the face of these challenges. We will increase the reliability of the network and make it more resilient to climate change. 'Continued investment in our railway will be key if we are to continue to grow our economy and deliver a better, improving, expanding rail network for millions of daily users.'

Last month, NR said it would to reduce the bonuses that can be earned by its top directors under a new regime where they would receive deferred annual bonus totalling 20pc of salary.

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