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Rail operator to cut up to 750 jobs

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:03 05 July 2010

EAST of England rail operator National Express said yesterday that it planned to cut up to 750 jobs in a bid to save £15m a year.

The company, which runs the East Coast rail franchise as well as the former One services in East Anglia, said the review of staffing would focus on support services and administration across all its businesses.

EAST of England rail operator National Express said yesterday that it planned to cut up to 750 jobs in a bid to save £15m a year.

The company, which runs the East Coast rail franchise as well as the former One services in East Anglia, said the review of staffing would focus on support services and administration across all its businesses.

National Express said the proposals - which are still subject to consultation - included its previously-announced plan to close a call centre in Norwich, with the loss of 73 posts.

The decision to cut costs came as National Express admitted it had seen some impact of the weakening UK economy on its rail business.

The company, which employs about 18,000 people in the UK, said it would complete the cost cuts by the end of next year.

"Looking ahead, the transport sector cannot be wholly immune from the global recession," said chief executive Richard Bowker.

"While cautious about the economic outlook, we are taking the initiative to reduce costs across our UK operations and counteract any slowdown in growth."

Announcing the probable job cuts in Norwich last month, National Express said: "We are proposing to close our Norwich call centre, which may lead to a reduction of 73 roles in Norwich.

"We are also planning to make changes to the way we provide food and drink on board the Norwich to London trains in response to changing customer needs. We are proposing to remove the restaurant service and improve our buffet and at-seat service.

"Also, as any sensible business does, we are constantly reviewing the structure of the business.

"We are undertaking a review to give greater focus on customer service and operational delivery.

"Our people are being fully consulted and the outcomes are being shaped by consultation with trade unions and elected staff representatives.

"While these consultations are taking place, we are unable to confirm the total number affected by the review at this time," said Mr Bowker.

A spokesman said last night that the consultation process was ongoing, and no update was available on how any job cuts would affect its staff in the east of England.

Despite the tougher conditions, National Express said it saw passenger revenues growth for its East Coast operations of more than 9pc in the year to date, with 5.5pc improvement seen on the East Anglia service.

The company described trading at its bus business as robust after underlying revenues growth of 6pc in the same trading period.

Its coach business saw growth remain steady at 5pc, the company added in a trading update.

Earlier this month, South West Trains operator Stagecoach said it planned job cuts in support services and administration.

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