Rail passengers boost revenues at FirstGroup

Transport operator FirstGroup reported a nine per cent rise in first-half adjusted pre-tax profit, driven by a strong performance at its UK rail business, and said it was upbeat on its outlook, despite facing a weak economy.

However it warned that while rail was holding up well in the economic turmoil, its bus business was struggling

FirstGroup, whose rail business includes the Great Western franchise running into central London, also said it was targeting net cash inflow of £150m for this fiscal year, which would include further asset disposals.

In September, the company sold its German bus unit for €5.5m (£4.69m).

Adjusted pre-tax profit in the April to September period rose to £84.5m, from £77.5m a year ago.

Revenue rose about three per cent to £3.17bn.

Shares in FirstGroup, which have shed about a fifth of their value over the past year, closed up four per cent at 341p.