Bus revenues keep National Express in line

Marion Dakers
BUS and rail company National Express said yesterday that strong ticket sales in the UK and growth in its American school bus business have kept its trading in line with forecasts, in spite of continued turbulence in continental Europe.

The firm said like-for-like commercial revenues on its British buses were up three per cent in 2013 so far, aided by rising student travelcard sales and concessionary fares.

National Express remains in talks with the Department for Transport to extend its C2C rail franchise, it said yesterday.

The firm is currently pursuing rail contracts worth as much as €900m (£760m) worldwide.

In the US, where National Express last year bought Petermann for $200m, revenues from school buses were up 18 per cent.

The firm’s European business continues to feel the effects of the Eurozone’s financial troubles, with underlying revenues from long-distance coaches down five per cent, partly offset by a five per cent rise in like-for-like sales in its Spanish urban bus network.

The company said its financial position remained strong, with ample liquidity and medium-term debt maturity.

It expects its full year capital investment to be around £100m after having spent some £40m in the first quarter.

“Overall, we considered the trading update to be broadly encouraging, with the absence of any further deterioration in trading in the Spanish long distance coach unit the key issue,” said Gerald Khoo, transport analyst at Espirito Santo.