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Network Rail admits too few trains run on time

Workers repairing a rail line Image copyright Getty Images

Network Rail has admitted that train punctuality has been inadequate.

The track operator said that it was running about 0.5% behind a year-end target of 90%.

"Almost 9 out of every 10 trains arrive on time, but train performance has not been as good as we want," Network Rail said.

Its comments came as the company said that profits for the six months to 30 September fell to £246m from £321m a year earlier.

Network Rail, which reinvests its profits in the rail network, said that profits fell in line with projections in the current five-year regulatory control period that runs until 2019.

Revenue rose by £19m in line with inflation to £3.14bn.

The company said it expected to invest £34bn in the railway network in the five years to 2019 but said that some schemes, such as the Great Western electrification programme, would cost much more than expected.

The chairman, Sir Peter Hendy, warned on Wednesday that "some projects will cost more and take longer than originally expected".

The original estimate for electrifying the line from Swansea to London was £640m, but delays and extra costs has sent the bill soaring to £2.8bn.

Property sell-off

Other major programmes underway include the Thameslink scheme and works for Crossrail in London, the Northern Hub, the Strategic Freight Network, and improving the network between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Construction of the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail station in central London

The rail operator is proposing to sell £1.8bn of railway arch space, disused depots and shop space in bigger stations to help funds to upgrade the network.

Network Rail has struggled since it became a public body last year.

It no longer issues debt in its own name and borrows from the UK Government. Net debt increased by £1.4bn to £39.1bn in the six months to September.

The challenge, according to Network Rail, was to "increase capacity on the railway network, while keeping it running safely, reliably and punctually" for the 4.5m Britons who take a train each day.

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