FirstGroup cheered by strong demand at rail arm

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Transport giant FirstGroup today said its full-year trading had been in line with management hopes, helped by strong growth at its rail division.

The Aberdeen-based group, which has recently secured extensions to its Great Western and TransPennine Express franchises, said like-for-like rail passenger revenues for the year to 31 March were up about 6.6 per cent, at the top end of its expectations.

Revenues at its UK bus operation are expected to have grown 2.3 per cent, helped by rising passenger numbers and stronger margins.

However, FirstGroup said fourth-quarter revenues at its US coach operation Greyhound have fallen about 5.5 per cent as customers opt to take their cars instead.

Chief executive Tim O’Toole said the firm’s overall trading for the year “is in line with our expectations and we continue to make progress with our multi-year transformation plans, which will improve the group’s financial performance and ensure we deliver sustainable value creation in the medium term”.

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