Rail franchise’s £1bn payback to state

East Coast Main Line paid a record £235million in profits back to the taxpayer in its final full year as a state-owned company, it was reported.

The total, a 12 per cent increase on the previous year, was revealed in its latest set of accounts and includes a £216.8million ‘franchise premium’ and £18.6million in a dividend payment.

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This means that the franchise, which is set to be privatised by the Government, has returned more than £1 billion to the Government over the past five years.

The line is a 936-mile long railway carrying cross-country, commuter and freight traffic and links London to Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

It has been run by a subsidiary of the Department for Transport since 2009 when the previous operator, National Express, handed the franchise back to the Government.