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National Express to axe 750 jobs.

Byline: By Jon Griffin

BIRMINGHAM-based National Express today delivered more economic woe after announcing plans to cut up to 750 jobs in a bid to save pounds 15 million a year.

The train and bus operator, which runs the East Coast and East Anglia rail franchises, said the review of staffing would focus on support services and administration across all its businesses.

The proposals are still subject to consultation, but National Express said the total of up to 750 roles included a previously announced plan to close a call centre in Norwich. The scale of the impact of the cutbacks on the West Midlands was unclear, although some of the 420-strong workforce at the new Birmingham head office at Five Ways will be affected.

The National Express job cuts were announced as new national figures showed dole queues had grown to more than a million for the first time in eight years.

The UK claimant count soared by 75,700 in November, the biggest monthly increase since the spring of 1991, taking the total to 1.07 million. And the overall number of unemployed people, including those not eligible for benefits, increased by 137,000 in the quarter to October to 1.86 million, the highest figure for more than a decade.

National Express has also announced plans to increase most of its bus fares across the region for the first time in 12 months.

The increases, which come into effect from January 2 next year, will apply to weekly travel cards and those fares paid with cash on the bus.

Single adult fares will increase by 10p to pounds 1.20 for a short hop journey, and 20p to pounds 1.70 for longer journeys. A child single rises from 55p to 60p and 75p to 85p respectively.

But all existing fares paid by direct debit will be frozen until 2010 and the Daysaver ticket costing pounds 3 will also be frozen when bought in booklets of five.

The company, which employs around 18,000 people in the UK, said it would complete the cost cuts by the end of next year. National Express chief executive Richard Bowker said: "While cautious about the economic outlook, we are taking the initiative to reduce costs across our UK operations."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 17, 2008
Words:378
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