Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 12:50 UK

Profits at transport firm FirstGroup fall by 19%

Passengers walk past a First Capital Connect train
FirstGroup said its UK bus and train business proved 'resilient'

Bus and rail operator FirstGroup said higher fuel costs and cut backs in public spending had hit its full-year profits.

The Aberdeen-based company reported full-year profits of £264m, down 19% from £326m the year before.

FirstGroup said the rising cost of fuel had cost the company £90m but it had still managed to make savings of £200m.

The group runs four rail franchises in the UK and is Britain's biggest bus operator.

The company described the global economic conditions as "challenging".

In the US, FirstGroup is the largest provider of student transport, with a fleet of about 60,000 yellow school buses.

FirstGroup said it had felt the impact of "unprecedented levels" of pressure on school board budgets.

The company's Greyhound intercity coach business in North America saw profits slip to £23.9m from £48.5m.

'Resilient'

In the UK, FirstGroup said rail and bus services produced "resilient performances".

The company said like-for-like passenger revenues rose by a bigger than expected 2.3% at its four rail franchises of Great Western, ScotRail, Trans Pennine Express and Capital Connect.

Profits slipped at the bus division from £134m to £124.6m, although passenger revenues rose by 1.9%.

FirstGroup's chief executive, Sir Moir Lockhead, said: "The group will continue to benefit from a diverse portfolio of businesses providing strength and resilience as they continue to trade robustly through the economic cycle."



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