National Express wins C2C extension

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National Express has announced a two-year extension on its London to Tilbury and Southend franchise

Transport group National Express has offered some cheer for its rail business as it announced a two-year extension on its London to Tilbury and Southend franchise.

National Express will now run the C2C franchise – which had been due to expire next May – up to May 2013, including providing services for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The news comes at the end of an improved year for National Express, which was hit badly in 2009 by the loss of its East Coast rail franchise and mounting debts.

National Express returned its loss-making East Coast franchise into state hands in November 2009 after running into trouble by overbidding for the deal before recession struck and crippled revenues from the franchise.

Last year also saw National Express raise £375 million from shareholders in order to reduce a £1 billion debt mountain.

The group has since led a revival, recently raising full-year profit expectations as moves to revamp its bus network paid off earlier than expected, while its rail business also saw a 7% rise in underlying revenues during the fourth quarter.

Dean Finch, chief executive of National Express, said he was “delighted” at winning the C2C extension, which has seen it make commitments on additional train services and staffing during the 2012 Olympics.

“We are resolute in our commitment to customer service and are determined to continue delivering the highest standards of train service performance, reliability and customer satisfaction,” he added.

The C2C service runs 357 trains each weekday, carrying 29.6 million passengers a year.

It holds the record for the highest punctuality results, at 96.7% a year. National Express is also hoping for an extension of its East Anglia franchise, currently due to expire in October 2011.

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