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Taxpayer-owned railway earns £208m

Train on the East Coast Main Line Credit: ITV Yorkshire

The nationalised railway company operating the East Coast main line , which runs through the Calendar region, has returned £208.7 million to taxpayers as revenues soared, fuelling the debate over plans to return it to private hands.

Directly Operated Railways (DOR), which took over the running of the key London-Scotland route four years ago, saw the figure increase by 6.6% in the year to the end of March.

Turnover increased 4.2% to £693.8 million while total sales were up by 4.2%, including ticket revenues, as well as catering and car parks.

The figures reignited the debate about the Government's intention to re-privatise the line - with a new franchise expected to start in February 2015.

Labour and rail unions have questioned the need for re-privatisation, arguing that DOR is returning a high level of money to the Department of Transport and receives a lower taxpayer subsidy than others.

Last week it was announced that Channel Tunnel high-speed company Eurostar was bidding to operate the route jointly with French firm Keolis. The successful bidder is expected to be announced in February 2015.