Row as rail profits soar

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Dave A

7 Jun 2005
Taken from Evening Standard website - Standard

Row as rail profits soar

Commuters were up in arms today after a rail company reported soaring profits.

The announcement from South West Trains came a day after it emerged that passengers on Europe's busiest peak-time route are to have more fare rises slapped on them.

The company, which serves Waterloo, reported profits last year of £48.6 million, an increase of more than 10 per cent on the previous year. Graham Eccles, head of South West Trains, immediately defended the growth in profits as a payback for the company's investment in the business.
Of the 10 per cent growth in profits, half came from a five per cent rise in passenger numbers in the year with the rest from cost savings.

After a week of delays on SWT, one commuter described the service as "an absolute disgrace". David Wiltshire, 58, who regularly travels from Guildford, said: "I don't care whose fault it is when we are late - all I know is I have missed several key appointments because I have been stuck on trains going nowhere." Mr Eccles admitted commuters are likely to be angry at proposals for train congestion price rises.

"I quite agree they will see it that way" he said. "But we have a problem on our railways over the next five years.

"Our problems are now how to deal with growth of four per cent a year.

"The trains are going to get fuller, more uncomfortable to the point where we can not squeeze any more on. But all these extra passengers have to go somewhere."

SWT's results come in a year of huge profit growth on the privatised railway. National Express, which runs services into Liverpool Street, Fenchurch Street and St Pancras said its profits were 70 per cent better last year.

Paddington operator First Group reported an increase in rail profits of 35 per cent.

SWT introduced a radical new timetable six months ago.

But may commuters have complained bitterly about this saying there are fewer trains and their regular service into London now takes longer.

And there were major delays on the SWT network this week caused by signal and track breakdowns.

Thousands of commuters - and those heading for Wimbledon tennis - were stuck on stranded trains for more than an hour.

Although the delays were not SWT's fault commuters constantly complain the train company does not tell them the reasons why they are late or keep them informed as they should.

Latest SWT performance figures to be announced on Friday will show that all-day services are now running at 90 per cent on time. But this is mainly only as a result of timetable changes which many commuters hate.
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Argh, why can't they say that it's not SWT's fault, do they have a conception on what happens in the railways.
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