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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 15:37 GMT
Stagecoach fortunes get into gear
South West Trains service at station
More passengers are travelling on South West Trains
Shares in Stagecoach, the rail and bus operator, have risen sharply after the firm turned in a strong trading performance and heralded future growth.

The Perth business enjoyed a healthy rise in revenues from its UK bus operations while passenger numbers rose at its South West Trains franchise.

Stagecoach said it was also encouraged by trading at its US business which has been beset by problems in recent years.

Its shares rose 7.7% to 108p after its figures beat analysts' expectations.

Robust growth

Bus revenues rose by more than 10% with passenger volumes up 1.3%.

South West Trains - the largest of Stagecoach's two wholly owned franchises - enjoyed a 8% rise in turnover and 4% growth in passenger numbers.

Group pre-tax profits for the six month to 31 October rose by 8.9m to 69.2m ($133.4m).

"Strong underlying profit growth has been achieved across our businesses despite the significant increases in fuel prices affecting public transport operators," said chief executive Brian Souter.

Stagecoach's 49% stake in the Virgin Rail Group, which operates the West Coast and CrossCountry franchises, generated operating profit of 5.1m, up from 5m over the same period last year.

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