Good afternoon, my name is Juliet Sharman and I’m here to talk about Great Eastern’s performance. As you all know, Great Eastern has only been a private company since it was bought by First Group as part of the privatization of the national railway network in 1997. In the years before privatization, the company made a lot of changes to prepare it for the free market. I’d like to tell you a bit about those changes and show you how they’ve affected the company’s performance since 1993. To do this, I’d like to draw your attention to figures three and four on page eight of your information brochures.
I’d like to begin with a look at the bar chart, which shows annual growth in passenger revenue from 1993 to 1997. As you can see, growth slowed from 2.4% in 1993/94 down to just 1% in 94/95. However, reduced costs and more efficient sales practices resulted in growth reaching 9.9% in 1995/96. This was followed by 7% in 1996/97. The bar chart clearly shows that the changes have made a big difference financially and have improved customer satisfaction, as we’ll see.
I’m sure you’ve all read newspaper stories about bad service on the privatized rail network, so I’d like you to look at figure four, which shows Great Eastern’s reliability and punctuality figures. As you can see from this graph, the company has an excellent reliability record. Reliability improved steadily from 99.1% in 1993 to 99.3% in 1995, where it has remained. Punctuality also rose steadily, going from 90% in 1993 to 91% in 1995. You’ll notice the drop to 88% in 1996, which I’ll explain later. Although we haven’t received the final figures yet, I can tell you that punctuality improved in 1997 and has continued to improve this year as a result of further investment.
I1=Investor J=Juliet Sharman
J:So,that's the end of my presentation.Does anyone have any questions?
I1:Yes,Earlier you mentioned the drop in punctuality in 1996.What was the problem?
J:Sorry,I said I'd explain that,didn't I? Well,it was mainly because of problems with the railway track.As you know,we have to lease both the track and our trains from other companies.The track belongs to a company called Railtrack.Although we receive penalty payments from them for any delays due to the track,it doesn't help our reliability figures.We don't like the situation but we can't change it.Next question,please.
I2:Could you tell us a bit about the company's future investment plans?
J: Of course.At the moment Great Eastern is investing 9m in upgrading its stations This includes facilities,information systems and security.We're also investing in new train,which will lead to improved reliability levels.The gentleman at the back,please...
I3:With the Government reducing its financial support to the company each year,how do you hope do improve profits in the future?
J:That's a good question.The Government is going to give us less and less money over the next few year.And,as I said,we have to lease both the track and our trains,so our biggest costs are fixed.The only way the company can improve profits is by increasing passenger volumes.That's why we're spending so much on improving customer satisfaction.Next question,please.