An Office of Rail Regulation report this week reveals that the UK rail industry received over £4 billion in government support last year.
Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary and chair of Action For Rail, Frances O’Grady, said: “These figures show just how dependent rail firms have become on the public purse. All bar one of the UK’s private train operators rely upon public subsidies to run services.
“Taxpayers’ money that should be spent on improving services is instead being siphoned off into shareholders’ pockets. The three largest dividend payers – Northern Rail, Transpennine Express and Virgin Trains – together paid out nearly £100 million last year after receiving over £1 billion in public funds.
“Rail franchising is failing both passengers and taxpayers. The government’s determination to re-privatise the East Coast Mainline – even though it is delivering the biggest cash surplus of all – shows it has learnt nothing from past mistakes.
“This report clearly shows how public ownership remains the best value for money for taxpayers,” said Ms O'Grady.