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Network Rail net debt at £30.6bn

Network Rail's (NR) net debt has risen to more than £30.6 billion with the infrastructure company admitting it is failing to meet punctuality targets.

NR said train performance was "still at high levels by historic standards" but added performance had "fallen behind our targets as we struggle to get more and more out of an ever-overloaded network".

Announcing its half-year results for the period April-September 2013, NR said its net debt was up from nearly £30.36 billion at the end of the 2012/13 financial year to more than £30.61 billion.

For April-September 2013, profit after tax was £870 million compared with £563 million for the same period last year with the increase being due to tax treatment and derivative gains.

Revenue for the period April-September 2013 was nearly £3.27 billion compared with nearly £3.17 billion in the same period last year, while operating profit was just under £1.2 billion compared with nearly £1.23 billion in April-September 2012.

NR said it was investing record amounts in the railways, with £2.74 billion, or £15 million per day. This is 33% up on the same period last year and 53% higher than four years ago.

Listing some of its achievements, NR highlighted improvements at King's Cross station in London, at Reading station in Berkshire, the Borders Railways project, and electrification and signalling schemes.

The company also mentioned new platforms, lifts, information systems, concourses, footbridges and track.

NR group finance director Patrick Butcher said: "The railway continues to experience tremendous growth and we are responding to that demand through the biggest sustained investment programme since Victorian times.

"With a million more trains and half a billion more passengers than 10 years ago our railways are all but full. We are squeezing all we can out of the existing network and new railway lines, such as HS2, must be built to deliver the step-change in capacity that Britain's vital rail arteries need."

He went on: "We continue to invest record amounts to deliver a bigger, better railway for passengers and businesses across Britain. We are also driving down the cost of running Britain's railway to help make it more affordable in the years ahead.

"Train performance is still at high levels by historical standards, but has fallen behind our targets as we struggle to get more and more out of an ever overloaded network."

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