In the wake of the cancelled franchise for the West Coast Main Line, one leading rail union claims almost half of the existing franchises are now receiving public bailouts.
The RMT claim 8 of the 19 franchises are being subsidised by the taxpayer and are calling for the full renationalisation of the railways.
The union also claims that revenue support payments made to train companies has increased from £290 million a year to more than £450 million.
"The expensive shambles of rail franchising extends well beyond the fiasco on the West Coast mainline as these figures show that a majority of the UK's rail routes will soon be on corporate welfare due to a mixture of bogus train operator projections and government and departmental incompetence.
"Hundreds of millions of pounds that could go towards improving our railways or keeping down fares is being soaked up by this racket which is lining the pockets of the private rail companies at taxpayers' expense."
The Department for Transport has suspended 3 members of staff over flaws in the franchise bidding process for the West Coast Main Line. A full investigation is now taking place and department officials are declining to make any other comments.
More top news
A fish once thought to be locally extinct in a Cumbrian lake has now been found - in its hundreds.
A review has been announced into how Cumbria Police investigated allegations of sexual and physical abuse at a former school in the country.
A look ahead at the forecast for the Border region.