Belfast Telegraph

Company Snapshot: Translink Ltd

By John Simpson

Translink has published its annual report and accounts for the year to March 28, 2010.

The public transport provider’s board says it is making good progress against targets set for it by Government, and quotes evidence on the passenger numbers, capital investment delivered and planned, as well as other indicators of the quality and acceptability of services.

None of the headline public performance targets set for Translink set specific financial performance criteria.

Passenger numbers fell slightly from 80.7 million in the previous year to 78.2 million in 2009-10 — a fall of 3%. The target had been for a small increase.

The operating loss, and the pre-tax loss, is significantly influenced by two special factors. The operating loss in 2009-10 comes after deducting £2.5m in redundancy and reorganisation costs, as well as £1.2m in a provision for the impairment of fixed assets.

Without these items, operating profits of £3.6m might have been recorded.

A further cost adjustment reducing the operating profits stems from the requirements to supplement the payments to the NILGOS pension scheme.

Even with the special payments, the actuarial deficit facing Translink pension schemes rose at the end of March 2010 to over £97m.

Capital expenditure by Translink continued at high levels. This spending is mainly grant aided by Government. The £56m in 2009-10 was made up of £13m on 73 new buses, £20m on infrastructure including refurbishing sections of railway tracks, and £16m on railway rolling stock.

The cost to Government of concessionary fares rose from £27m in 2008-9 to £32m in 2009-10 — an increase of 18%.

Government also provided £23m as compensation for the Public Service Obligation of the railways and £15m in other forms of support. In total, the Department for Regional Development (DRD) was the main funder of government support, totalling £121m.

The annual report acknowledges that the arrangements for the decision-making responsibilities allocated to Translink by the DRD have been under review and are now affecting the business plan in the years ahead.

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