Dutch taxpayers have been bailing out ScotRail with loans worth around £1 million a month.

The most recent financial figures available suggest Scotland’s national train operator has been kept afloat by its owner, Abellio, a wing of the Netherlands state railway.

By the end of 2017, Abellio ScotRail Ltd owed more than £25m in loans, including £24m to entities ultimately owned by the Dutch Finance Ministry.

Abellio ScotRail is due to release its 2018 annual accounts next month.

It lost £15m last year but rail franchise firms often operate in the red at the beginning of their period. 

Abellio took over ScotRail in 2015 expecting to run the franchise for at least seven years. Insiders have suggested it should now be aiming to turn around its finances in order to make the slim margins its hope to get over the life of the franchise.

The loans – which are unsecured – are tiny compared with the £296m ScotRail received in subsidies to operate its services in Scotland in 2017.

The company said in its 2017 accounts it was a “going concern” thanks to a letter of support from its owners, Abellio Transport Holdings BV. 

This is also one of the firms it has been borrowing from – £14m as of the end of 2017 at a rate of 4%. 

It has also borrowed £10m from Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the Netherlands domestic passenger railway, at 8%.

Revenues from fares and the government are growing as
passenger headcount rises.

“Abellio Group,” Abellio ScotRail said, “continues to provide the company with support and remains committed to the long-term success of the business.”