National Express motors ahead

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The Independent Online

The transport giant National Express showed it is driving out the year in style yesterday, posting revenue growth in all its bus, train and coach sectors.

Its rail division, including the c2c between Fenchurch Street and Essex, saw ticket sales rise 6 per cent. That follows an announcement yesterday from the Association of Train Operating Companies showing average prices will rise by 5.9 per cent for train users in January.

On the buses, NatEx said its new smartcard, Oyster-style tickets and 250 new vehicles – it replaced 15 per cent of its fleet this year – had helped sales grow 4 per cent over 2011. In its coaches business it sold 5 per cent more tickets this year than last, with airport, long-haul and London commuter services performing particularly well.

Revenues even grew by 5 per cent in beleaguered Spain and by 8 per cent on its yellow school buses business in North America.

Analysts expect the group to post pre-tax profits of £181m for the year to 31 December. Last year NatEx's pre-tax profits came in at £161m, up 38 per cent on the previous year, thanks mainly to the company returning the loss-making East Coast rail franchise to the Government.