Birmingham travel group National Express has made a loss of £83.5 million after losing control of its East Coast rail franchise.
The bus, coach and train operator’s bottom-line result for 2009 was also hit by restructuring charges and the £7.2 million cost of defending itself against a series of takeover approaches.
Despite the challenging year, which also saw National Express raise £375 million from shareholders in order to reduce a £1 billion debt mountain, the company said it was in a better position than at the start of 2009.
It said one of its priorities was to build on the strong performance of its coach operation, which saw profits improve 27% to £34.3 million as the business showed resilience in the recession. It will also look to improve trading in its UK bus and North American school transport businesses.
National Express returned its loss-making East Coast franchise into state hands in November after running into trouble by overbidding for the deal before recession struck and crippled revenues from the franchise.
The company, which will also end its East Anglian and c2c commuter deals in 2011, said the total exceptional charge relating to the termination of the East Coast contract was £64.8 million.
Stripping out one-off costs and losses generated by East Coast, National Express said group-wide profits would have been £142.5 million in 2009, compared with £172.4 million in 2008.