Network Rail profits halve as accounting changes bite

Network Rail staff Image copyright PA

Network Rail's annual pre-tax profit has halved to £506m ($782m; €692m), compared with £1.04bn a year earlier.

The rail infrastructure group said the fall was largely the result of the rail regulator's decision to reduce its income by £246m this year.

Profits were also hit by an accounting loss on "financial hedges", recorded as a £304m gain last year that turned into a £41m loss.

Network Rail stressed this had no effect on railway investment.

Revenue for the year ended 31 March fell to £6.08bn from £6.3bn a year earlier.

Network Rail said the number of people travelling by train grew by 67.3 million to a record high of 1.65 billion passengers.

Passenger numbers have more than doubled in the past 20 years, since privatisation, Network Rail said, which meant it missed its punctuality target once again this year.

Last year, the percentage of trains that ran on time fell to 90%, down from 90.9% in 2013 and below Network Rail's target of 92.5%.

Patrick Butcher, Network Rail's finance director, said: "The railways continue to grow in popularity and we continue to invest heavily to respond to that demand.

"While progress is being made in improving performance, safety, asset reliability and delivering more renewals and projects, our rate of acceleration in these areas isn't yet where we want it to be."

Mr Butcher added that with more than a million more trains on the network than 10 years ago, there were "inevitable challenges".

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