Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 13:17 UK

Downturn hits firm's rail revenue

National Express East Coast Mainline train
The company has cut jobs, dividend payouts and capital spending

Falling revenues on East Coast Main Line trains are making life difficult for franchise holder National Express.

Revenue growth on trains between London and Edinburgh fell to 0.3% in the first three months of 2009 compared with 9% over the whole of last year.

The firm's other rail franchises, East Anglia and c2c, also saw revenue growth slow to 3.8% and 4.6% respectively.

Cuts have been made in dividend payouts and capital spending while 750 jobs have been lost.

National Express won the East Coast Main Line deal in 2007 before the recession struck and it must pay the government £1.4bn over the life of the franchise, which ends in 2015.

But the firm said the terms were "agreed in a very different economic climate" and it does not receive revenue support from the Department for Transport (DfT) for the franchise until the end of 2011.

"The group is engaged in regular discussions with the DfT, which include the impact of the recession on the East Coast franchise," a company spokesman said.

Bus and coach travel was more resilient, with revenue growth of 4.1%, National Express said.

Despite the "challenging" conditions, overall revenues in the first three months of the year were up 7.9% on last year.

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