Page last updated at 22:17 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 23:17 UK

National Express boss to resign

Richard Bowker
National Express operates rail and bus services

Richard Bowker, the chief executive of transport group National Express, is to resign, the BBC has learnt.

His resignation comes at a critical time for the firm, which is renegotiating terms for its rail operations with the government.

Its main rival First Group has also made a takeover approach.

National Express is due to release a trading statement later. Passenger numbers on its East Coast rail service have flagged during the recession.

National Express is contracted to pay the government £1.4bn to run the East Coast Mainline, which runs between Edinburgh and London, until 2015.

But sales at the franchise grew by just 0.3% in the first three months of 2009, compared with 9% over the whole of last year.

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Ministers say if National Express cannot make the franchise work it will have to give up all three of its rail companies - they have told the company there will be no bail-outs.

Cuts have been made in dividend payouts to shareholders and other spending while 750 jobs have been lost.

Last month, it started charging passengers for reserving a seat on its East Coast and East Anglia franchises.

The firm is currently trying to reduce a debt pile of about £1.2bn.



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