Govia railway owner Go-Ahead back on track after timetable disaster

The transport company behind Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the UK’s biggest rail franchise, appears to have put the timetable fiasco of a year ago behind it, as bosses revealed strong growth.

Go-Ahead, which also runs bus services in cities including Manchester and Brighton, said revenues for the year to June 5 had grown in all three divisions of buses, trains and international services in Ireland and Singapore.

Revenues in its regional division rose 4%, with passenger journeys up 3.5% – although the firm admitted that profits generated from passengers fell due to targeted campaigns aimed at younger travellers.

Investors were pleased with the results, sending shares up 9.5% to 23.3p in early trading on Thursday.

The company also revealed that its takeover of the Queens Road bus depot in Manchester from FirstGroup completed earlier this week, with 22 routes and 173 buses now running across the city.

On its London and international bus services, revenues fell 0.5%, with mileage down 4%, although bosses said this was due to losing contracts during the last year.

Go-Ahead’s rail services under the South Eastern franchise saw passenger numbers rise 6% and journeys up 4%. However, the numbers were slightly skewed by the tough comparisons a year earlier following the reopening of London Bridge station.

At its joint venture, GTR, in which Go-Ahead has a 65% stake in the operation of the Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services, the company reaffirmed that the division remains unprofitable following a settlement with the Government which cut profit margins.

A year ago, GTR and other train companies faced passenger fury after a new timetable rollout led to widescale disruption, with operators not having enough drivers to complete the new journeys.

More than one million claims were filed against GTR for delayed journeys in the six months between April and October last year.

The boss of the division at the time, Charles Horton, was singled out by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and eventually stood down a year ago over the problems.

Go-Ahead chief executive David Brown said: “In rail, Southeastern remains the best-performing large UK train franchise, with the highest levels of punctuality in its history.

“Service levels at GTR continue to improve, with punctuality for the month of April reaching 89.3%, a record level for the franchise, after nine consecutive months of year-on-year improvement.”