FirstGroup optimistic about coming year

Higher profit ++ FirstGroup has attributed most of its increased group operating profit in the half year to 24 September to higher revenue from open access operations Hull Trains and Lumo, and says its revenue from National Rail management fees is ‘broadly in line with management expectations’. Group adjusted operating profit in the half year was £66.1 million, compared with £51.8 million a year earlier. First declared a dividend of 0.9p, saying ‘we expect higher profit from our open access operations’, although it also warns that ‘the political, economic and industrial relations backdrop and pace of travel volume recovery are challenges’.

Travel offer ++ Eurostar and Thalys are making their first combined ticket offer since the two operators were merged in May. Passengers can buy single tickets for £29 or €29 for journeys on both networks, although passengers from London who change trains at Brussels to travel on to German destinations by Thalys will pay the same amount again. The possible travel dates are from 28 November to 2 February 2023. The booking window is short, because it will be open only until 10 November.