Private Train Operating Companies at the heart of the long-running rail dispute have made more than £300 million in profits since the government put them on new contracts when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, RMT research reveals.

While rail workers have had their pay frozen in the same period, DfT data shows that the private train operators made £310 million in taxpayer-funded profits between March 2020 and September 2022. By September this year, that figure will be in excess of £400 million, all of which can be turned into shareholder dividends. This is in addition to the estimated £300 million of taxpayers’ money spent indemnifying the companies so that they don’t lose a penny as a result of strike action.

The report also shows that had it been reinvested back into the rail industry, £310 million would have been enough to fund a 10.6% pay rise for the Train operating companies’ staff.

So far, the Rail Delivery Group has only offered 4% in the first year and 4% in the second with a whole host of unacceptable changes to working conditions including the widespread introduction Driver Only Operation on all train services.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “While the Secretary of State and the Rail Delivery Group spin about the need for reform to fund pay rises, the truth is that the money was always there but it’s being salted away by a gang of profiteers and their mates in the government. It’s outrageous that the interests of workers, passengers and the taxpaying public are all sacrificed to the greed of a handful of private transport companies who are being guaranteed profits when they can’t run a railway even when we’re not on strike’.

“While executives and the rich make millions, our members are being asked to accept substandard pay offers and a ripping up of their hard fought for terms and conditions, during an escalating cost of living crisis.

“It’s time the interests of workers and passengers were put first. We need a negotiated settlement with both the rail operators and Network Rail and the government needs to stop blocking these deals.”