‘Strong progress’ at Nat Ex

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“Profit before tax in the third quarter of the year was nearly 15% higher than the same period last year,” says National Express Group.

Commercial revenue at the UK Bus division grew by 4% in the period, with concessionary revenues 3% higher, and passenger numbers up 1% in the year to date. More than 250 vehicles will be replaced over the next 12 months.

At UK Coach a good summer performance saw core express passenger numbers rise by 2%. With last year’s major distribution wins now fully embedded, year to date core express revenue is up 5%. “We have signed a new distribution agreement with easyBus to utilise our core express services and are progressing a number of growth and contract opportunities in our airport business,” says the company.

In North America, the Memphis conversion contract is now National Express’ largest school bus contract, growing three-fold on renewal this summer. Starting successfully in August, the contract has helped drive 3% underlying revenue growth in the period.

In Spain, domestic passenger volume was up 1%, reversing an earlier adverse trend. Intercity coach performance was particularly good, with improved customer confidence evident and continued success from the roll out of revenue management on rail-competing routes – on the latter, average passenger volume was 2% higher in the period than the previous year and revenue has recovered to the prior year level.

“Net debt at the end of September was £50m lower than in September 2013 and we remain on track to deliver our target free cash flow of £150m in 2014,” says the company. “We are deploying capital selectively to protect and grow the business, investing in replacement fleet as required.”