East Anglia: National Express on track to hit targets

THE boss of transport group National Express – which will see its East Anglia rail franchise end in February – said today that it was finishing the year in “excellent shape”.

National Express (NX) reported sales growth across its UK train, coach and bus divisions for 2011, which it said reflected travellers swapping car use for public transport due to high petrol prices.

In a pre-close statement ahead of its annual results, NX said it was on track to meet full-year expectations, with rail and coach revenues both expected to show 6% growth year-on-year while bus revenues were forecast to be 4% higher.

NX said growth in rail passenger volumes remained strong, particularly on its south Essex commuter route c2c which it hopes to retain when the franchise comes up for renewal next year.

The group failed to make the short-list of bidders for the new Greater Anglia rail franchise which is due to start on February 5, 2012.

The interim contract – awarded to Abellio, a subsidiary of Dutch rail group Nederlandse Spoorwegen – will run for 29 months, with a longer-term deal, expected to run for 15 years, to follow from July 2014.

National Express, which is due to announce its results for the year to December 31 on March 1, added that revenues at its coach division had benefited from an increase in airport, long-haul and London services while passenger numbers at its bus division had returned to growth.

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NX chief executive Dean Finch said today: “National Express is finishing 2011 in excellent shape.”

The group, which also operates in Morocco, Spain and the US, is forecast to report a 12% rise in pre-tax profits to �180.5million, on revenues up 3% to �2.2bn.