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Network Rail posts fall in profits and rising debt levels

Rail infrastructure operator Network Rail has posted a dip in annual profits, to £1.52 billion, and an increase in its debt levels.

The group’s pre-tax profit fell £70 million in the year to 31 March, down from £1.59 billion in the same period the year prior.

Meanwhile net debt rose to £22.3 billion, Network Rail revealed today.

The figure was up from £19.7 billion at the same time last year.

Network Rail also – despite tightening its belt over the past 12 months – failed to meet targets for efficiency savings set by the Office of Rail Regulation.

Its savings of 27 per cent for the period since 2003/04 was short of the ORR’s target of 31 per cent.

Train punctuality, however, hit the 90 per cent mark for the year, and details of this year’s bonuses – which are decided based on performance levels – are due to be released at the end of the month.

Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher has already said he will forego any annual bonus this year, but the move was labelled a “publicity stunt” by the TSSA rail union.

Mr Coucher will still be eligible for the incentive scheme bonus.

Last year Mr Coucher got an annual bonus of more than £305,000 and a further £205,000 bonus under the incentive scheme.

The bonus generated anger in the industry after the company was fined a record £14 million by the ORR for three serious engineering work overruns over the Christmas and new year 2007/08 period.