National Express trading lifted by resilient UK rail and bus unit

City A.M. Reporter
TRANSPORT group National Express Group said it had traded well in its third quarter, driven by resilient performances from its UK bus and rail businesses.

The company yesterday reported that its UK rail unit had delivered an “excellent operational performance” so far this year and that it was studying opportunities for expansion in the German and Spanish rail markets.

National Express also said it was helping the Department for Transport (DfT) with its review into the country’s rail franchising system after the botched West Coast Mainline competition. Flaws in the bidding process were unearthed as the DfT was preparing for a legal challenge by Virgin Trains over the decision not to award its franchise to FirstGroup.

National Express said revenues at its UK bus division rose three per cent so far this year, while sales at its North American school bus operation were two per cent up in the nine months to the end of September. Revenues at the group’s Spanish urban bus unit grew well but intercity coach revenues fell two per cent during the period.

It said it remained on track to deliver its profit expectations for 2012 but that “low economic growth, government funding pressure and fuel cost inflation (was) likely to constrain progress” next year.