National Express and the 1.4bn unpaid rail fare!
As I travelled yesterday from King's Cross to Leeds on a NXEC train I was confronted by around 8 unpleasent looking revenue enforcement staff as I tried to board the train. "Fare evasion is a crime" said posters on Northern Rail's diesel train to Halifax (which broke down and had to limp on one engine to Bradford).
I hardly manage a rail journey on my regular commute where a passenger isn't loudly berated for not knowing that their ticket isn't valid on the train they are on (despite often being told it is by NX staff at the station) and then charged a huge fee.
Interesting then that National Express seems to have a problem itself with paying its rail franchise payments to the Government, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/may/07/national-express-profit-slump
It seems to be the East Coast franchise that is the problem. For some reason they appeared to think revenue would rise 10% year on year on this line for the next few years. Why?? It hasn't and now the payments that increase each year are too much for them and the franchise has become a millstone round their neck. They now seem to want the Government to waive the bill but still make a profit on their other lines!
Apparently this could mean they loose the "profit making" East Anglia and c2c services....Having just got rid of staff and on-train catering on the East Anglia line and running what is frequently an unreliable service with old rolling stock maybe that is how it still makes a profit!
It's not going to help the economy recover if we're stuck with loss making, unreliable services starved of the investment they need just to make them acceptable never mind good quality. Bizzare then that the Government doesn't think they need to get involved, does NX need to change its name to a bank before they are interested!?