Go-Ahead profits fall by 23% after Southeastern loss


One of the UK’s biggest transport groups saw its income and profits collapse by roughly 20 per cent after it was stripped of the Southeastern trains franchise, it can be revealed.

Go-Ahead saw its global revenues tumble by £700 million to £3.2 billion and profits fall by 23 per cent, from £115 million to £89 million, “largely due” to the loss of South-eastern.

Profits in its UK rail division, which still includes the GTR franchise that runs Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express, fell from £56.7 million to £23.6 million — a 58 per cent drop.

The figures emerged in the firm’s annual accounts, published last week after a long delay.

Group chief executive Christian Schreyer, appointed after the loss of Southeastern, received a £540,000 bonus — taking his total salary package to £976,000.

Former chief executive David Brown, who retired several weeks after the franchise was lost, did not get a bonus.

Go-Ahead was the lead partner in the consortium in charge of the South- eastern franchise, which runs commuter trains between Kent, suburban London and stations such as Charing Cross, London Bridge and Cannon Street.

But it was ousted by the then transport secretary Grant Shapps in October 2021 — and subsequently fined £23.5 million — when it was found that it had failed to return £25 million government cash awarded over a seven-year period to run trains on the HS1 high-speed route.

Southeastern passengers had long complained of poor services, a problem that continues despite the network now being in direct Government control. There have been two recent safety concerns about overcrowding at London Bridge linked to timetable changes.

The accounts, for the 12 months to last July, show Go-Ahead had a 1.2 per cent profit margin on its UK rail operations.

Under the GTR deal, which runs to 2025, Go-Ahead gets £8.8 million a year from the Government and can earn a performance-related bonus of up to £22.9 million a year.

It is the lead partner in the GTR consortium that runs Thameslink and Southern – the UK’s biggest rail franchise.

Thameslink and Southern services have been among those hardest hit by the rail strikes, which resume on Thursday next week after the RMT refused to accept a two-year pay deal.

Under the GTR deal, which runs until 2025, Go-Ahead receives a fixed fee of £8.8m a year from the Government and can earn a performance related bonus of up to £22.9m a year.

The firm expressed “regret” at the disruption suffered by passengers due to rail strikes and called for the rail unions “to engage with us over changes to the industry that are required to secure a sustainable and positive future”.

But it confirmed that the strikes were not harming its finances, as “the associated cost and revenue risk of [strike] action remains with Government, not GTR”.

Go-Ahead also runs about a quarter of London buses and operates in Australia, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Singapore and France.

Last year its shares were suspended from trading for almost two months.

Go-ahead chair Clare Hollingsworth said the “failings” that led to the loss of the Southeastern franchise “did not reflect the strong values to which Go-Ahead holds itself”.