These figures don’t add up

Your columnist John Wylde writing regards the East Coast rail franchise rightly states that the present operator Directly Operated Railways (DOR)are not allowed to bid because they were set up by the Government.

However, a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Transport reveals that DOR are treated by the Secretary of State in the same way as any other franchise operator.

As John Wylde says, they are generally felt to have made a good fist of operating East Coast. Let’s look at the other hopefuls John Wylde mentions.

Virgin Trains operate almost solely main line service along the west coast as DOR do along the east coast.

Another FOI request to the office of the railway regulators revealed that on the last figures available the subsidy per passenger mile on the Virgin Trains is a hefty 5.7p to DOR 0.5p – say no more. Eurostar, 55 per cent owned by French Railways (SNCF) 40 per cent owned by Britain through HSI.

An FOI figures HSI cost the British taxpayers £5.8billion but in 2010 the then Secretary of State for Transport let a 30-year lease to a consortium of Canadian pension funds led by the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund to operate the British arm of Eurostar for a total of £2.1billion.

Thus, apart from some regulatory powers regarding reliability and punctuality, Britain has no control of Eurostar until December 31, 2030. The latter in the hands of the railway regulators.

The then Secretary of State for Transport hailed this as ‘good for the taxpayer and the passenger’. Really! cost to taxpayer £5.8billion income £2.1billion, less subsidy the taxpayer must continue to pay for internal London-south east Javelin services using the same route. I’m glad I didn’t go to the same school as him.

NC Walker,

Hotspur Court, Alnwick