MP wants passengers to have say in how rail profits should be spent

PUBLISHED: 15:07 13 July 2016 | UPDATED: 15:07 13 July 2016

An Abellio Greater Anglia train.  

An Abellio Greater Anglia train. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2015

Passengers should be able to choose how to plough the profit Abellio Greater Anglia makes as a result of delays back into the railways, an MP has said.

Will Quince has said the £6m a year difference between what Abellio paid out in compensation to travellers, and it received in fines from the government-owned infrastructure company Network Rail should go into a fund for improvements such as extra benches, cleaner trains, stronger wifi and more staff.

Private operators, which sign contracts with the government to run the railways, are compensated if a delay is not their fault, with some money going to the passengers affected.

But the Colchester MP told the House of Commons that last year Abellio Greater Anglia – the train operator that runs the rail network in the region – received £8.56m in compensation from Network Rail for disruption, but paid out just £2.3m for passengers.

Mr Quince said: “On seeing the massive subsidies for delays that operators are receiving, the average person will ask ‘what incentive do our franchise holders have to push Network Rail to tackle these issues? Why would they demand better infrastructure when they are profiting from my disruption as a commuter?’”

He said future contracts with train operators should see any net difference put into a fund controlled by a local railway panel, including councils, businesses and passenger groups.

An Abellio Greater Anglia spokesperson said payments were entirely separate from and different to payments to passengers and they were paying out more in compensation for delays and making it easier to claim.

“We are working closely with Network Rail to improve performance, and during the existing franchise we are investing more than £40m in initiatives to improve service standards, including improvements to our train fleet,” she added.

Rail minister Claire Perry said there was a “very clear logic” to the payments with a series of complicated financial relationships relating to a future earnings hit to franchising, and relating to the fact that many franchises are not in a premium-paying position.

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