Stagecoach in UK rail boost

 
City A.M. Reporter
STAGECOACH profits are driving forward fuelled by a strong performance at its rail operations in Britain, it said.

The FTSE 250 transport company said Virgin Rail, a joint venture in which it owns a 49 per cent stake, was “progressing its bid” for the new West Coast Trains rail franchise which was put up for tender by Britain’s Department for Transport last month.

Like-for-like revenue at Stagecoach’s UK rail business, which includes London commuter franchise South West Trains, grew 9.5 per cent in the 40 weeks to 5 February.

Virgin Rail Group achieved an 8.9 per cent jump in like-for-like revenue in the same period.

Sales at Stagecoach’s British bus unit climbed three per cent, while its North American coaches operation posted a 13.3 per cent leap in the nine months to the end of January.

Rival British transport firm National Express Group on Wednesday said full-year profits rose on strong performance at its US school bus and UK coach divisions, and said it was confident about growth in 2012.

Stagecoach said: ‘Overall current trading remains good and we believe the prospects for the group remain positive.”

However, analysts at Shore Capital warned: “We remain cautious given the uncertainty over future rail franchises.”

FAST FACTS | STAGECOACH

● Like-for-like revenue at Stagecoach’s UK rail business grew 9.5 per cent in the 40 weeks to 5 February.
● Stagecoach has a joint venture with Virgin Rail, in which it owns a 49 per cent stake.