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Branson Virgin Rail - Just the ticket

While the Virgin Rail passengers face nine per cent fare increases ( an average of 4.8 per cent from Jan 6, with first class passengers facing rises of nine per cent) and some of the worst delays in the country (In its worst performing year in 2002, just 73.6 per cent of West Coast trains ,London to Glasgow, and 62.5 per cent of Cross-Country trains , Cornwall to Aberdeen, arrived within 10 minutes of the scheduled arrival time) , Richard Branson pocketed a £24 million dividend from Virgin Rail . The West Coast and Cross Country lines, have received more than £1 billion in subsidies from the Government since he took over the route in 1997.

Richard Murphy, the director of Tax Research, an independent consultancy firm, said: "He's stripping the company of cash while saying at the same time, 'I need more public subsidy'."