Luas operator's profits up despite passenger fall
The private company that operates the Luas light-rail system in Dublin on behalf of the State increased profits last year, even though passenger numbers and revenues were down.
Veolia Transport Dublin Light Rail is a unit of French energy and infrastructure giant Veolia.
It turned a profit of €2.3m before tax last year when it carried 25.4 million passengers on the Dublin city tram system.
Profits for the year were up slightly on the €2.2m it generated in 2008, according to accounts just filed by the company.
Increased profitability came despite marginally weaker revenues. Income fell to €39.7m from €40.3m between 2008 and 2009. Profits were lifted by a million-euro reduction in expenditure even though wages and costs associated with its staff of 226 increased from €9.9m to €10.7m.
Worryingly, the latest figures show passenger numbers have fallen since the start of the recession.
Last year's total of 25.4 million journeys was down from 27.4 million in 2008. In 2007, when employment levels peaked, passengers took 28.4 million Luas journeys.
The number of journeys is also down in spite of last year's extension of the Luas into the IFSC from Connolly Station.
This month an even bigger extension saw 7.5km of new rail with 12 new stops opened between the suburbs of Sandyford and Cherrywood in south county Dublin.
Veolia Transport operates the Luas on behalf of the state-owned Railway Procurement Agency, which owns the system. All of Veolia Transport Dublin's income comes directly from the state agency.
In July the directors of Veolia Transport Dublin proposed paying a dividend of €1.9m to its parent company from last year's retained earnings of €2m.
The same company has operated the system since it opened in 2004, though it was known as Connex Transport Ireland until 2006.
It has a licence to run the Luas until 2014.