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High-speed rail line to get state subsidy

Line hurt by lower-than-expected passenger numbers.

Britain's new high-speed railway line being operated by the Southeastern rail franchise since December will receive government subsidy for the next four years This is because of a lack of adequate property development around Ebbsfleet and Stratford and lower-than-expected passenger numbers, the Times has reported.

Though the high-speed rail services have attracted a slew of new passengers, the numbers are not as many as expected when the franchise was put to tender in 2005.

The paper quoted the Go-Ahead Group, which runs rail services on the Southeastern franchise, as saying that passenger revenue and numbers have climbed 8 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively, in the first quarter of this year. However, the bid for the franchise had assumed growth of over 10 per cent. The expected property development along the line has also been delayed or remains unbuilt.

Since 1 April, the Department of Transport has been providing revenue support to the franchise to the tune of about £80m, the paper noted.