Transport giant FirstGroup has confirmed it will run the Great Western railway service for another two years, as it reports steady trading over the last six months.
The Aberdeen-based group said overall trading in line with management’s expectations. Its UK rail business was among the best performers, with like-for-like passenger revenue expected up by about 5.7 per cent in the half-year to 30 September.
The firm said it had just signed an agreement with the Department for Transport to extend its First Great Western franchise to September 2015, after the bidding process for rail operations was thrown into turmoil by the botched West Coast main line tender last year.
It said negotiations to extend its First Capital Connect franchise are underway.
Chief executive Tim O’Toole said: “I am pleased to report overall trading for the first half of the year is in line with our expectations, despite continued economic headwinds in some of our markets. While it is still early days, we are on track with our plans to return the group to a position of strength.
“The foundations have been laid for a more robust company, and we intend to continue the hard work and relentless focus that is needed to improve our operating performance, deliver enhanced growth and drive sustainable returns over the medium term.
“Today’s agreement with the Department for Transport is good news for First Great Western passengers, taxpayers and our shareholders as it provides continuity and consistency, building on the improvements our experienced team has already made over the last franchise period.”