National Express hit by coach slowdown

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NATIONAL Express today reported a fall in annual profits after one of the most difficult years in the 40 year history of its coach arm.

The largest operator of coach services in the UK was impacted by the withdrawal of the Government’s £16 million senior citizen concession scheme, which meant one million fewer subsidised journeys last year.

Despite success in growing its non-concession passenger volumes by 5%, National Express admitted it had over-estimated its ability to mitigate the loss of the senior citizen funding, leading to a £14.3 million fall in the division’s operating profit to £20.6 million last year.

The group, which is the biggest bus operator in the West Midlands and runs 20,000 school buses across 32 US states, reported overall pre-tax profits of £164.1 million, down from £180.2 million in 2011.

Chief executive Dean Finch said he was optimistic despite the decline, with four out of five of the company’s divisions showing growth last year and its rail arm recently celebrating the award of two German commuter franchises.