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Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 11:33 GMT
Network Rail back in the black
Network Rail runs the UK's rail infrastructure
Network Rail, owner of the UK rail infrastructure, has reported a move back into profit and a reduction in rail delays.

For the six months to 30 September, the firm reported an operating profit of 225m ($425m), compared with a loss of 95m in the same period last year.

It also claimed improvements in rail performance, including a 16% reduction in the delays it was responsible for.

Turnover increased to 1.87bn from 1.5bn during the same period.

Performance improved

The company said it had reduced its costs and refocused its business to be more customer-friendly.

"It has been an encouraging six months with an acceleration in the rate of performance improvement and continued progress in our efforts to improve the efficiency of the business," said chief executive John Armitt.

Passengers are benefiting from improved punctuality and the completion of key projects
John Armitt, chief executive
The company's priorities, it said, would be to remain focused on "improving performance and keeping costs under control".

Other performance improvements in the first half of the company's financial year included more trains arriving on time, with the average up from 81.2% in March to 81.8% by mid-September.

The company's long-term target is 90% punctuality by March 2009.


Network Rail said it has improved efficiency and cut back on costs by taking rail maintenance in-house.

"Passengers are benefiting from improved punctuality and the completion of key projects, though we all recognise much remains to be done before we deliver the railway the public rightly expect," added Mr Armitt.

Network Rail said that its high-profile project to decrease journey times on the West Coast mainline had seen a reduction of 35 minutes on the fastest journey from London to Manchester.

On a pre-tax basis, the company managed to cut its overall losses to 34m from 233m in the same period last year.

Network Rail's net debt, however, increased from 10.3bn to 13.9bn, with higher interest payments affecting its bottom line. Nevertheless, the company pointed out that its level of debt was still below original forecasts set out in its business plan.

Network Rail is the "not-for-dividend" owner and operator of Britain's railway infrastructure, which includes the tracks, signals, level crossings and stations.

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