Passengers have reacted in fury to fare rises [Image: Getty].

The Office of Rail and Road tells us that, in 2015-16, the total amount of government subsidy – the money we pay to the rail companies, despite the railways having been privatised in 1994 – was £3.999 billion.

So seven-eighths of that amount – almost all of it – has been taken as profit by the people named in the extract below.

Almost none of it has been used to improve the service and it certainly seems unlikely that any of it is being used to keep rail fares at a reasonable price.

This leads inexorably to the obvious question:

Isn’t it time the Conservative Government ended the rail subsidy?

It certainly isn’t being used for the intended purpose – “operating, maintaining, renewing and enhancing the railway”.

And it certainly isn’t helping passengers.

Isn’t it time we shunted this subsidy into the sidings and told the money-grubbing controllers to fend for themselves?

Private train operators have creamed off £3.5billion from running our railways over the past 10 years.

These gigantic profits come despite passengers having to deal with overcrowding, delays, cancellations, strikes and among the highest ticket prices in Europe.

It got worse yesterday as fare increases averaging out at 2.3% were introduced .

A Daily Mirror investigation, probing for the first time the true cost of rail privatisation, has found that tens of millions of pounds are spent on fatcat wages.

Instead of being ploughed back into the network, improving services and cutting rail fares, much of this cash was paid out in dividends to wealthy owners.

£1,300,000: Stagecoach chief exec Martin Griffiths received this last year. The firm has made £659million profit over 10 years

£10,000,000: National Express deputy chairman Jorge Cosmen and his Spanish family bagged this sum in dividends last year

£1,787,000: David Martin, Arriva’s ex-chief exec, walked away after getting this much in 2015… and he got £1.6million in 2014

£7,000,000: Tim O’Toole, chief executive of First Group plc, has been handed this massive sum over the past five years

£479million: The huge dividend handed out by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin UK Holdings

£3,300,000: Dean Finch, chief executive of National Express, can certainly afford to smile after raking in this colossal amount in 2015

£1,300,000: What David Brown, chief executive of Go-Ahead Group received in 2016, a year after scooping even more – £2.1million

£17,000,000: Stagecoach founder Sir Brian Souter also got £8.4m as chief executive at the firm between 2010 and 2013

£17,000,000: Fellow Stagecoach founder Ann Gloag, who owns 26% of the company with Souter, shared £17 million in dividends this year

Source: All on board the gravy train – rail firms’ £3.5billion profit despite passengers’ fury at dire service

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