A RISE of 9 per cent in fare revenue helped lift net profit of the Mass Transit Railway Corp (MTRC) by 15 per cent to a record $1.19 billion last year. The strong profit rise reduced the corporation's accumulated losses to $99 million, from $1.29 billion at the end of 1994. Chairman Jack So Chak-kwong said fare revenue rose to $4.71 billion, from $4.31 billion, although passenger numbers grew by only 1 per cent to $813 million. Legislators last year criticised the fare increases, calling them unreasonable given that the company recorded such high profit. By comparison, the company pocketed $67 million in profit for 1991, so that the latest figure is an increase of 1,685 per cent over that year. The average number of week-day passengers rose to 2.45 million from 2.34 million in 1994, and fare revenue per passenger carried climbed to $5.80 from $5.37. Total revenue swelled to $5.66 billion from $5.13 billion and operating costs jumped to $3.17 billion from $2.83 billion. Operating costs before depreciation were up 13 per cent to $2.52 billion. Recurring revenue from sources other than property development made a solid contribution throughout the year, Mr So said. Estate rental and management income jumped 12 per cent to $519 million and revenue from advertising, kiosk rental and other incomes improved 22 per cent to $431 million. Profit before interest and finance charges was $2.48 billion, a rise of 8 per cent. Interest and finance charges were 2 per cent higher at $1.28 billion. During the year, the MTRC invested $1.6 billion in equipment and station improvements. Production of 88 rail cars was completed, allowing it to deploy additional trains during peak hours. The first phase of the installation of a new signalling system would allow for additional frequencies on the Tsuen Wan line by the middle of the year, Mr So said. A financing programme, which included a US$300 million 10-year Yankee bond, was launched last year. There was also a HK$6 billion seven-year syndicated loan and two five-year Hong Kong dollar note issues through the Hong Kong Monetary Authority at $1 billion. Borrowings stood at $14.73 billion at the end of December. The corporation said a full report would be tabled before the Legislative Council on April 24, adding that no dividend would be paid to the Government.