Transparency data

Rail subsidy per passenger mile

Input indicator, broken down by rail franchise, published annually from May 2011.


Subsidy per passenger mile

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Measurement template


DfT Business Plan input indicator

Geographical coverage: DfT franchised train operators (Great Britain)

Information broken down by: Train operator and type of subsidy

Latest data

The total subsidy to DfT franchised train operators was 5.7 pence per passenger mile in 2015-16, up from 5.6 pence per passenger mile in 2014-15.

For this indicator, total subsidy includes:

  • (a) subsidy paid directly to train operators by government
  • (b) an allocation of the Network Grant (that is, payments made directly to Network Rail)
  • this is calculated by taking the total Network Grant, apportioned according to each franchise’s share of fixed track access charges

Rail subsidy per passenger mile by Train Operating Company (TOC)1

Click here to view this data in an interactive chart

  a   b   c (= a + b)  
  Train operator subsidy per passenger mile (pence)   Network Grant per passenger mile (pence)   Total subsidy per passenger mile (pence)  
Train Operating Company 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15 2015-16
c2c -2.7 -5.3 7.1 7.2 4.4 1.8
Chiltern Railways -4.0 -3.7 6.2 6.4 2.2 2.7
CrossCountry -2.3 -3.5 10.5 10.6 8.3 7.0
East Midlands Trains -5.7 -5.3 10.2 10.5 4.6 5.2
Govia Thameslink Railway -7.3 -6.1 8.1 7.6 0.8 1.6
Great Western Railway -1.7 -2.4 8.5 8.6 6.8 6.1
Greater Anglia -6.7 -5.3 9.3 9.9 2.6 4.6
London Midland 4.3 2.6 12.3 11.7 16.6 14.4
Northern 16.6 17.3 17.6 18.1 34.2 35.3
South West Trains -9.7 -9.7 6.3 6.5 -3.4 -3.3
Southeastern 1.2 1.9 8.2 8.6 9.4 10.5
Southern -6.4 -10.0 6.1 6.1 -0.3 -3.8
TransPennine Express 3.8 1.2 9.5 10.2 13.3 11.4
Virgin Trains East Coast -6.3 -6.1 7.4 8.5 1.1 2.4
Virgin Trains West Coast -2.2 -3.5 9.8 10.0 7.6 6.5
All DfT franchised TOCs -3.3 -3.4 8.9 9.1 5.6 5.7

1Negative figures reflect where train operators were paying a premium to DfT rather than receiving a subsidy.
2First Great Western was re-branded as Great Western Railway during 2015-16.
3Govia Thameslink Railway took over the Southern franchise on 25 July 2015. Southern is included in the Govia Thameslink Railway figures after this date.

Source: Department for Transport, Office of Rail and Road

In 2015-16 two train operators had a negative subsidy per passenger mile, meaning that they paid government a larger premium than the effective subsidies they received via the Network Grant payment to Network Rail. These operators were South West Trains and Southern.

Northern received the highest subsidy per passenger mile of 35.3 pence per mile in 2015-16.

The Subsidy per passenger mile Excel table contains a more detailed breakdown of the subsidy figures for each train operator.

Background information

This indicator provides information about the amount of subsidy paid to Train Operating Companies, both directly by the Department for Transport and Passenger Transport, Executives and indirectly via grants to Network Rail.

There is no recognised rule for allocating the Network Grant across franchises. The distribution of fixed track access charges has been used to allocate the Network Grant by train operator.

  • publishing schedule: annual
  • last updated: 13 October 2016
  • next update: August 2017

Further information about this indicator can be found in the measurement template.

Subsidy data published by the Office of Rail and Road

Network Grant estimates derived from DfT internal management information are apportioned between train operators in proportion to fixed track charges. The fixed track charges schedule is available on the Office of Rail and Road’s website at

Further information

Published 13 May 2011
Last updated 13 October 2016 + show all updates
  1. DfT rail subsidy impact indicator updated.
  2. Rail subsidy page updated to include data for the financial year ending 2014.
  3. Business plan indicator updated to show data for the year 2012 to 2013.
  4. First published.