National Express Group PLC
14 May 2003
For immediate release at 12.05 pm, Wednesday 14 May 2003
National Express Group PLC
Annual General Meeting - Trading Update
Commenting at today's AGM, Michael Davies, Chairman, made the following
'We are pleased with the Group's progress since the start of the year and
confirm that trading remains in line with market expectations.
'At Travel West Midlands we have seen continuing growth in farepaying
passengers. Concessionary fares patronage is recovering as services become less
disrupted with Birmingham City Centre starting to reopen following recent major
redevelopment work. At Travel Coventry a range of new promotional initiatives
have been implemented including timetable door drops, passenger research, the
launch of a smartcard initiative as well as the delivery of ten new articulated
'At the beginning of March, our coach division commenced the rebranding of its
operations, launching a new, contemporary look as well as a rationalisation of
its portfolio of brands. We were pleased to participate in the Government's new
concessionary fares scheme launched 1 May. This gives the less able and
passengers aged 60 and over the opportunity to travel at much reduced prices on
express coach services. Patronage in the first quarter of the year has been
slightly impacted by a reduction of tourist travel into the UK but this has not
affected the overall profitability of the division.
'Since the start of the year we are pleased to have achieved patronage growth of
broadly 5% across all our trains businesses. We continue to work with Network
Rail to improve performance of the rail network infrastructure.
'As stated at our preliminary results in March, we continue to focus on
enhancing the viability and improving the risk and reward profile of our train
franchises. We believe a rationalisation of our franchise portfolio will be
achieved through the Strategic Rail Authority's ('SRA') remapping and
refranchising process. We have submitted our Best and Final Offer for the Wales
& Borders franchise to the SRA and in April were short-listed for the Greater
Anglia franchise. We also await the next stage of the ScotRail bid process
having pre-qualified earlier in the year.
'The two-year extension for our Central Trains franchise has been approved by
the SRA and Centro. Approval from the Secretary of State is expected shortly.
Discussions continue on a two-year extension for our Silverlink franchise.
'The performance of our student transportation division is in line with
expectations. Whilst the bidding season has been competitive, only a small
proportion of our retained contracts have come up for renewal this year. We
still await the outcome of some of our bids, a number of which are new
conversion opportunities put out to the private sector by school boards for the
first time. Our results in Canada, following the acquisition of Stock, have
been strong. Insurance pressures still exist particularly in public transit. In
Australia, our bus division has started the year in line with our expectations.
'We are pleased with the Group's performance to date and look forward to the
future with confidence.'
- ENDS -
For further information, please contact:
Nicola Marsden, Director of Group Communications
Fiona Noblet, Group Communications Manager
National Express Group PLC 020 7529 2000
Steve Jacobs/Ben Foster
Financial Dynamics 020 7831 3113
This information is provided by RNS
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