REGULAR readers will have gleaned from my last column that I am no fan of Abellio and the way they run ScotRail. To be fair, I was no fan of First either. But it took First 10 years to show themselves as profit-fixated opportunists; Abellio managed it in just two.

Running a railway is an expensive business, especially finding investment to exploit rising demand such as we’ve seen in Scotland. Scottish Government investment in the Alloa and Borders lines have paid off faster than expected. But what about lines with no or little investment that have beaten growth in all others? That’s East Lothian (see table).

The only serious investment we have had was when First replaced clapped-out stock with class 380 trains six years ago. All Abellio has given us are electronic card readers and one lengthened platform, none of which has seen use – no toilets, no longer trains, no visitor-friendly information, just Japanese-style crushes and endless ticket queues at Waverley because conductors can’t get through packed trains.

If our line were a loss-making dead-end this might be excusable. But it’s not. Our line is a gold mine and the stats prove it.

In the last 10 years, ridership here has doubled from one to two million passengers per year. But to cope only one extra train was added to the 130 weekly return journeys. That averages 146 passengers per train – 60 per cent of seating capacity and better then some airlines manage.

Not content with fares rising one per cent more than inflation, Abellio are raking in pure profit, not least because trains are well-loaded in both directions: commuters and shoppers inbound, students and tourists outbound.

Passenger statistics are given by ticket type: full/cheap/season. Here, those tickets cost £13/£6.80/£1,760 from North Berwick or £2.60/£2.60/£664 from Musselburgh. Intermediate station prices lie on a sliding scale between those. The proportion sold for each type of ticket is roughly 30 per cent/50 per cent/20 per cent. The table above shows the numbers (plus other Edinburgh commuter stations). You can ‘do the math’ yourself.

Even discounting fare increases averaging four per cent each year for the last quarter century, ScotRail now rakes in £2.1 million more each year on our line than they did a decade ago. And, since Abellio has made no real investment – no extra trains, no extra staff, no promotion, no tourist initiatives – all of that is profit. This pours into the coffers of their owner Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch National Railways). It is never seen again in Scotland, let alone in East Lothian.