Buses help Go-Ahead profits to soar in spite of Southern Rail chaosComments Off on Buses help Go-Ahead profits to soar in spite of Southern Rail chaos
Go-Ahead Group, the main owner of troubled Southern rail, boosted pre-tax profits by 27% last year despite making a loss on the service in and out of London Bridge.
Chief executive David Brown, who has asked not to get an annual bonus or pay rise because of the massive disruption to Southern commuters, said: “The core of the group, which is buses, showed steady growth, making operating profits above £100 million for the first time.
“But our rail operations were clearly overshadowed by Govia Thameslink Railway which includes Southern. Southern services have been disrupted by restricted network capacity, strike action and increased levels of absence. We apologise to the people whose lives have been affected during this time.”
He said he welcomed the Government’s £20 million “hit squad”, announced yesterday, to sort out Southern, and said: “We really welcome the taskforce and [its boss, rail veteran] Chris Gibb is going to be a real asset to help improve things.”
Go-Ahead’s pre-tax profit rose 27% to £99.8 million on revenues up 4.5% at £3.36 billion. That was despite a £13.6 million reduction in profits at GTR because poor performance levels meant it didn’t get the franchise payments it should have from Government.
Investors, however, benefited from the rest of the group’s success with the full-year dividend raised by 6.5% to 95.85p a share. The shares shot up 182p, or 9%, to 2180p.
Brown’s bonus was £558,000 last year and it would probably have been higher this year based on the group’s improved performance. However, he said he had declined to be considered for one. “I thought it was the right thing to do because we have not been providing the right service for our customers. We have apologised and we continue to apologise.”
He also said the company had got it wrong in failing to explain to its customers how technically difficult and disruptive the two-year rebuilding of London Bridge by Network Rail would be. He said: “We should have been more open and honest with the public about that.”