East coast rail firm on track

The nationalised operator of the east coast main line has posted an increase in full-year profits and said plans remain on track to return the business to private hands next year.

Directly Operated Railways, which took over the franchise from National Express in 2009, said operating profits for the year to 31 March rose 7 per cent to £7.1 million, on turnover 3.1 per cent higher at £665.8m. First-class passenger numbers were up 21 per cent.

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Chairman Doug Sutherland said East Coast, which runs trains between Scotland and London, is expected to transfer to a private operator in 2013, “maximising the value of the franchise achieved by the government and the taxpayer”. He said: “Our assets have been worked harder and a solid financial performance has been achieved in a challenging environment.”