Company Report: Translink
Translink results consolidate the trading position of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company and NI Railways, Ulsterbus and Metrobus (trading as City Bus).
Translink has been trying to attract increased numbers of passengers at the same time as controlling costs. Last year, passenger numbers rose by 1.5m to nearly 80m.
Operating costs, including administration, fell by nearly £6m. The group posted an operating profit of £3.2m. After living with losses in prior years, the operating profit returned to the 'black' but only with the help of a financial gain of £8.8m from hedging of fuel costs.
Pre-tax losses of £673,000 were recorded. However, after allowing for the financial gain on hedging costs, the pre-tax losses would have been nearer to £9.3m.
The financial losses in the year to March 2017, drawing on accumulated reserves, were as anticipated in the business plan prepared a year ago. Pre-tax losses on a similar scale are anticipated in the current year and mean that accumulated reserves fall to the point where, in later years, action to secure nearer to break even or a commitment is given by Government to offer increased financial support of about £10m each year.
In the consolidated statement of comprehensive income the Translink report notes that its defined benefit pension scheme liabilities increased sharply in the year by £126m. This change is mainly attributed to the impact of low long-term interest rates on the value of pension fund investments.
Translink has continued a major programme of capital spending, partly on refurbishing railway services, notably the major work on the Coleraine to Londonderry section, but also in the modernisation of the bus fleets as well as advance payments on buses for Belfast Rapid Transit. Government capital grants each year have minimised the impact of capital spending on the operational accounts. Capital grants of £64m were received in 2016-17 against capital spending on assets of £70m.
Employment in the group averaged 3,759 people during the year: a fall of 143 compared to the previous year.