Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Fuel costs hit Stagecoach profits

Stagecoach train
Stagecoach is 'disappointed' no deal with National Express could be agreed

The transport group Stagecoach says its first-half profit fell because of rising fuel and pension costs.

Pre-tax profit in the six months to October fell 28% to £75.5m. Stagecoach said the second half had started well.

"We have performed well in the face of the continuing challenging economic environment," said the bus and rail firm's chief executive Brian Souter.

Sales in its US business fell 6.5% as rising unemployment reduced the demand for travel.

Stagecoach also said it was "disappointed" no deal could be agreed with National Express.

The two were in merger talks but National Express pulled out because it was concerned the merger could not be carried out before the end of the year.

That would have put National Express in breach of its lending terms.

Meanwhile Stagecoach said it had boosted its rail revenues over the summer by offering budget train tickets.

It said that bookings on its budget rail product had doubled over the past 12 months.

Stagecoach also operates bus services in more than 100 towns and cities across the UK.

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