Arriva to drive deeper into mainland Europe

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The Independent Online

The rail and bus group Arriva yesterday set its sights on an expansion of its operations in mainland Europe as more of the Continental transport market is liberalised.

The rail and bus group Arriva yesterday set its sights on an expansion of its operations in mainland Europe as more of the Continental transport market is liberalised.

Arriva, which generates a quarter of its £1.6bn turnover from running buses and trains in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Portugal, said it aimed to double the size of its business in mainland Europe over the next five years.

"Europe is a huge area of focus for us because there are quite a few opportunities opening up with the franchising of rail operations," its chief executive, Bob Davies, said. He highlighted Italy, where Arriva has pre-qualified to bid for the concession to run regional train services in the north of the country, and Portugal, where the suburban rail system around the capital, Lisbon, is likely to go out to tender.

Arriva's budget for acquisitions of about £50m a year is also likely to be earmarked mainly for Europe because of the lack of scope for buying rail or bus businesses in the UK.

Pre-tax profits rose by £3m to £83.8m last year despite a £12m increase in pension costs, mainly in Arriva's bus division. The final dividend was raised 5 per cent to 13.4p, giving a total for the year of 18p.

The group is one of the shortlisted bidders for the ScotRail franchise, which is due to be awarded by the end of April.

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