Avanti West Coast, the worst-performing rail operator in Britain, which has severely cut back its services, is revealed to have paid out £11.5m in shareholder dividends last year.
Avanti, jointly owned by FirstGroup and Italian rail operator Trenitalia, over the same period, was paid a franchise subsidy of £725m to help cope with the impact of the pandemic.
The number of trains running from London Euston to Manchester has fallen from three an hour to just one. The operator was second bottom in the performance table for late trains in 2020-21 and was bottom in 2021-22. It has received more than 50,000 complaints over the last two years, the highest number of any operator.
Ministers were accused last week of rewarding Avanti for failure after it was paid £17m in performance and management fees in 2020-21, including about £4m in payments for “operational performance”, “customer experience” and “acting as a good and efficient operator”.