Rail and bus travel operators Stagecoach is continuing to invest in online services and smartcard ticketing despite a drop in profits during the first half of 2009. Reporting its interim results to 31 October 2009, Stagecoach outlined its investments in new websites and smartcards.

Pre-tax profits for the company which operates South West Trains into London Waterloo and the East Midlands network, fell by 28 per cent to £75.5 million. Stagecoach said increasing fuel costs and its pension fund were largely to blame. Revenues from its bus and rail operations across the UK did continue to grow though.

Stagecoach said it is working with the Department for Transport to introduce smartcard ticketing on the South West Trains network it operates and has completed trials.

Stagecoach has been using the internet to target potential travellers, re-launching the Virgin Trains website - Stagecoach owns a 49 per cent stake - and creating a megatrain.com site alongside its megabus franchise. Stagecoach said of megatrain; "it has significantly expanded the number of low-cost seats available on the South West Trains, East Midlands Trains and Virgin Trains networks. Passenger bookings have doubled in the last 12 months".

Although full details were not outlined, Stagecoach said a cost reduction programme has identified £70 million of annual savings that can be achieved.