Express & Star

Travel giant defies terrorism threat

Bus and coach operator National Express fended off the effects of terrorism to carry more passengers, driving higher revenue and profits across the group.

The Midlands Metro is run by National Express

Shares jumped by three per cent on opening after the transport giant, which runs bus services in the Midlands as well as the Midlands Metro tram system, reported a 6.4 per cent rise in revenue in the quarter covering July to September.

Profits have accelerated since the half-year mark, with an increase at constant currency of 14.9 per cent a marked improvement on the 11 per cent growth from the period to June 30.

The group's coach division, which runs services from the West Midlands to London, has overcome the impact of terrorism to secure growth over the period.

Revenues on coach services were 1.2 per cent higher, while user numbers rose by 3.1 per cent on "core" services.

Revenue in the UK Bus division, which runs services in the West Midlands, increased by 2.4 per cent per mile travelled.

That came after a 0.6 per cent rise in paying customers and reducing service miles travelled by two per cent "to better match seasonal demand".

The company said its Low Fare Zones, which have been piloted in Sandwell and Dudley, have led to a four per cent increase in passenger numbers and a two per cent increase in revenues.

Group chief executive Dean Finch said: "We have delivered another strong performance and remain on track to deliver our targets for the year.

"I am pleased that we have both successfully addressed our challenges and exploited our strengths. We have reversed UK Bus' decline and continued to secure growth in UK Coach despite the impact of terrorism."

He added: "We will retain a relentless focus on efficiency, delivering both competitive prices for our customers and a strong cash flow.

"Through this I am confident that we will continue to deliver growth and the returns for further investment in both our fastest growing markets and the new technology which is already delivering real benefits and promises much more to come. This momentum will be further underpinned by the significant fuel cost savings we will see in 2018."