The company running the East Coast rail line has reported a profit and boost in passenger numbers in its first year of state ownership.
The London to Scotland route was handed back to the Department for Transport by previous franchise holder, National Express, in November 2009.
It is now run by Directly Operated Railways, which posted a net profit of £1.2m and a 3% passenger rise.
The aim is to return the franchise to private ownership by the end of 2012.
National Express was due to run East Coast until 2015, but struggled with lower than expected traffic growth, and £1.4bn premiums over the life of the franchise.
Elaine Holt, chair and chief executive of Directly Operated Railways said that when it had taken over morale was low and investment had "all but ceased".
"During the year, we've started the process of putting back the skills and infrastructure to enable us to deliver optimum performance," she said.
"And while there are signs that these efforts are starting to pay off, I anticipate it will take several more months before we are in a position to sustain our targets in this area."
"During the next year, we'll remain focused on getting the basics right, fixing the problems we inherited, improving and building for the future, and restoring the pride in the East Coast railway," she added.