27th November 2006:
'The firm that runs the UK's railway tracks and signals, Network Rail, has made a £747m profit for the first time. The company has no shareholders and must invest profits into the infrastructure.
Network Rail chairman Ian McAllister said punctuality had improved: "From being a basket case a few years ago, rail is now a success story. We've taken over a billion pounds out of the cost of running the railway, which is good news for the taxpayer and the fact that we're now making money means that we can use that to invest in building the railway.”'
28th November 2006:
‘THERE was outrage last night that Britain’s rail chiefs are in line for massive pay bonuses. The rail unions said the revelation that executives of the not-for-profit company which replaced Railtrack could receive bonuses of up to 80 per cent of their basic salaries was a return to the "fat cat" era.
Its chief executive, John Armitt, is receiving an annual salary of £450,000. The other executives entitled to bonuses for the six months to March 2003 are the deputy chief engineer, Iain Coucher (whose salary is £400,000 a year), the group finance director, Ron Henderson (£300,000), the project and engineering director, Peter Henderson (£300,000), and safety and compliance director, Chris Leah (£300,000).’
(N.B: Network Rail replaced private firm Railtrack in 2002 and receives about £4bn a year in government subsidy.)
29th November 2006:
‘Passengers face above-inflation price hikes for rail tickets from January, train companies have announced. Unregulated fares, which companies are able to set themselves and cover tickets such as cheap day returns, will increase by between 3% and 7%.
The Association of Train Operating Companies said the money was needed to pay for ongoing service improvements.
Atoc director general George Muir said: "While no-one likes to pay more for their travel, we need the revenue to pay for the ongoing improvements to the railways that passengers expect. Train operators will continue to raise their game, delivering further improvements to the railway and enhancing the travel experience of passengers."’
If anyone can work out how all these pieces fit together in one neat little “squeeze the punters till their eyeballs bleed” package, you’ll win an annual season ticket for Southeast Trains, now worth £74,600.09p.