Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

FirstGroup shakes off ScotRail loss with upbeat report on trading

FirstGroup chief executive Tim O'Toole
FirstGroup chief executive Tim O'Toole

Transport giant FirstGroup bounced back from the loss of its ScotRail franchise yesterday by revealing 6.6% growth expectations for like-for-like revenue on its trains.

The Aberdeen company delivered its latest trading update the same day as Dutch rival Abellio took over ScotRail, which has been run by FirstGroup for the past 10 years.

FirstGroup, which is due to report results for the year to March 31 on June 10, said it was on track for growth at the top end of expectations.

A week after the business got the green light to continue running the Great Western rail franchise until 2019, it said strong demand meant like-for-like rail revenue was likely to be 6.6% higher than a year ago.

Sales growth in the group’s UK bus division was up by an estimated 2.3%, thanks to periodic fare increases and a 2.6% rise in passenger numbers.

The update also confirmed a recent turnaround for FirstGroup’s school bus operations – its First Student business – in the US and Canada.

Despite fourth quarter trading “modestly affected” by adverse weather, First Student revenue for the year is expected to be 1.3% higher after it continued with its strategy of only bidding for and retaining contracts with a decent rate of return.

“We expect (First Student) to deliver margins of approximately 7.5% for the year and are confident of delivering our double-digit margin target in the medium-term,” FirstGroup said.

Fourth quarter like-for-like revenue for the group’s North American intercity Greyhound coaches fell by 5.5% as lower fuel prices made car travel more affordable. As a result, full-year revenue is expected to be flat.

Chief executive Tim O’Toole said the group, whose rail operations include First Great Western, Transpennine Express and Hull Trains, continued to make progress with its “multi-year transformation plans” after a slump in profits in 2012/13.

Meanwhile, the new operator of the ScotRail franchise celebrated the launch of a “new chapter” in the history of Scotland’s railways yesterday.

Abellio marked the first day of operating the trains by giving away £1million worth of tickets.

Its plans for the network include brand new trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow, offering faster journey times and more capacity, and a fully refurbished intercity fleet on other cit to city routes.

Abellio chief executive Jeff Hoogesteger said: “As the new stewards of a vital part of Scotland’s society and economy, we understand the responsibility given to us and will work every day to earn the faith that has been shown in us.

“The ball is now very firmly in Abellio’s court and we have no higher priority than to bring our vision for ScotRail to life.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in