Change in classification, to be backdated to 1 April, prompts dispute between unions and operators. The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown forced the government to take emergency steps to prop up train companies by assuming the financial risk of rail franchises , after passenger numbers dwindled almost to nothing. The Office for National Statistics has now written to the Treasury and the Scottish government to inform them of its decision to reclassify train companies as public non-financial corporations in the light of the measures. The change, backdated to 1 April, means rail companies’ borrowing will be factored into ONS figures on public-sector borrowing and the number of state employees. At the same time, train companies are not allowed to make timetable changes or change staffing numbers without specific government approval.
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