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FirstGroup sees upturn in demand for first class travel

Demand for first class train travel is recovering to levels not seen since the recession struck, transport giant FirstGroup said.

The Aberdeen-based firm reported "encouraging signs" for all its more expensive rail fares - helping train passenger revenues rise 4.4% in the first half of its financial year despite a reduction in regulated fares in January.

Advance sales of first class tickets, flexible and anytime tickets have seen a boost as travellers continue to look for value.

A FirstGroup spokesman said: "Demand is coming back to where it was two years ago - it's an indicator of people changing the way they travel. They are increasingly wanting to go back to having more flexibility."

The group is also hoping the trend will weather upcoming public sector spending cuts, with most of the current increased demand coming from private sector commuters and business travellers.

FirstGroup has seen strengthened passenger numbers across all its franchises.

It runs services including First Great Western, First ScotRail and First Hull Trains. FirstGroup also owns Aircoach, the Irish transport company.