Transport giant National Express has revealed a 5.3 per cent rise in revenue after a 5.4 million rise in passenger journeys.

The Birmingham-based firm saw sales rise to £2.24 billion in the 2011 calendar year, up from £2.16 billion the year before.

The increased helped boost pre-tax profits by 12.3 per cent, to £180.2 million, two years on from reporting a pre-tax loss.

The group enjoyed profits in its UK coach business of £34.9 million, while margins improved in its Spanish and North American coach and rail operations.

Dean Finch, National Express chief executive, said: “In just two years National Express has moved from reporting losses to the record profits we have announced today.

“We carried more passengers than in 2010 and are now the best performing operator in many of our markets.

While our customers are increasingly cost conscious in these challenging economic times, we are focused on delivering excellent services at good value. We are determined to maintain this momentum in 2012.

“I believe our portfolio of businesses and track record of success mean we are also well placed to do this and target emerging growth opportunities.”

Mr Finch said he expects demand to remain strong as austerity measures and rising fuel prices make alternative modes of transport comparatively more expensive.

Passenger journeys rose by 5.4 million to 656.6 million across the year, while net debt crept up by 3.8 per cent to £633.7 million.