Translink is the trading name for the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company, which is the parent company for NI Railways, Ulsterbus and Metrobus. The annual report for the year to March 30, 2014 gives a broad ranging summary of the financial performance of the group based on the published accounts.
The financial results need to be interpreted attempting to separate the underlying commercial performance of the group from the degree of financial underpinning of different forms of government support.
This becomes important in understanding the different items affecting turnover and profit (or loss). In the year to March 2015, total trading turnover was just under £198m. This was slightly lower than the preceding year.
However, although passenger numbers were slightly higher for NI Railways, revenue was 5% down. For the two bus companies, passenger numbers edged upwards, but revenue from fares was nearly unchanged. A critical factor in reading the accounts for NI Railways was a major reduction in the annual government subvention, as a Public Service Obligation, which fell by £5.4m. These revenue streams feed into the calculation of operating profits. Early in the financial year, Translink knew the scale of government support would be reduced and agreed to use some of its reserves to operate with a cut of £13m in government support.
The trading outcome for the year 2014-15 was expected to show a loss. The operating loss for the group rose from a small surplus in 2013-14 to a deficit of £13.4m. This trading loss came from a combination of less government financial support and also a significant loss taken to account because advance hedging of fuel prices left a net cost of nearly £6.9m.
Government capital grants each year have minimised the impact of capital spending on the operational accounts. Capital grants of £37m were received in 2014-15 against capital spending on assets of £40.5m.
In the group balance sheet at the end of March 2015, the value of reserves and shareholders' funds fell to a negative £44.2m.