Saturday, 4 November 2017

Scotrail news

Dutch giant bails out ScotRail after losses make mockery of "profiteering' claims

From The Herald

HOLLAND's nationalised railways have bailed out ScotRail with a multi-million loan after the train operator suffered its first loss in more than a decade.
After nearly a year of accusations of "profiteering" in Scotland, Netherlands-based Abellio has confirmed it has effectively been subsidising service improvements north of the border.
New annual accounts show a division of the Netherlands state-owned railway this year extended £10m in credit to its Scottish subsidiary.
This came after Abellio ScotRail Limited suffered a £3.5m after-tax loss for 2016, its first full year in charge of most of Scotland's train services.
Abellio ScotRail, however, said its outlook was "robust" and stressed its current investments in stock would see new "faster, longer and greener' trains hit Scottish tracks, which are owned by the UK Government, later this year.
The losses came in a difficult year for the ScotRail as its service dipped below the standards of reliability and punctuality required by its franchise deal with the Scottish Government. They have since recovered and are among the best in the UK.
Abellio ScotRail did not explain in its accounts why it made a loss. However, poor performance, partly blamed on knock-on disruption from major infrastructure work at Queen Street station in Glasgow, may have cut income, sources said.


Train operators across the UK also saw some passengers move back on to the roads in 2016 as the drop in the oil price brought down the cost of petrol at the pumps.
The loss in 2016 came after an after-tax profit of £9.5m - more than a million a month, in April-December 2015.
That figure, despite sparking protests, was dramatic reduction in profitability from the last years of the previous franchise, First Group. Industry insiders always stress that train operating companies - whose margins can be wafer thin - tend to make their investments in the first part of their franchises and their profits at the end.
Abellio ScotRail's 2015 profits formed the basis of a campaign against the franchise by trade unions and some Labour figures.
The RMT general secretary Mick Cash in late 2016 referred to Abellio
'profiteering". He said: "The million pounds a month that is being stripped out by Abellio and shipped across the North Sea to Holland would go a long way to addressing the staffing, safety and performance issues that are dragging Scotrail down."
However, Companies House filings show that Abellio ScotRail's Dutch parent company has not sought or received any dividend since the franchise began. Official documents show the only money crossing the North Sea has been from the Netherlands to Scotland, not the other way round.
The 2016 accounts show a "Group Loan support" of £10m from Abellio Transport Holdings BV, a sister company registered in Utrecht in the Netherlands, which, like Abellio ScotRail, is ultimately owned by Dutch Railways, NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen,
Last month left wing activist group Momentum, a key plank of Jeremy Corbyn's support, shared a video alleging Abellio ScotRail's profits were going to The Netherlands.
The video, which showed Dutch stereotypes, was condemned by the SNP's transport minister as "untrue" and "bordering on xenophobic". The video's makers responded by saying Mr Yousaf was siding with "profiteers".
ScotRail last week announced that 94 per cent of its trains had meet government standards for reliability and punctuality, up from just 90 per cent at the end of 2016. Mr Yousaf said: "The very real efforts to lift performance is a credit to all the staff who have worked hard to deliver this in the face of unrelenting, often unwarranted, criticism."
Mr Yousaf is currently working on long-term proposals to renationalise ScotRail under powers devolved just after the current franchise began.
Scottish Labour also wants to take the service back in to public ownership.

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