While its shamefully put-upon customers might wonder which circle of hell their perenially delayed trains are travelling through, it's been a good morning for public transport operator Go-Ahead (GOG) as shares in the £1.03 billion cap advance 6.7% to £24.00 on the back of an upbeat set of interims.
Go-Ahead runs the Southeastern franchise and Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express services as well as the Great Northern service and the company has reported a 16.6% rise in pre-tax profits in the half-year ended December 26, to £52.1 million, on the back of £1.7 billion in turnover.
A recent consumer survey by Which? showed that the three rail franchises with the lowest satisfaction levels are Southeastern, Thameslink and Great Northern — all run by Go-Ahead. This morning chairman Andrew Allner assured investors that 'We are working very hard with our industry partners to improve our service for passengers but many of the factors leading to under-performance are outside our direct control.' Doubtless this abrogation of responsibility will provide all sorts of comfort to Go-Ahead customers paying above inflation fare increases for very late and often dangerously overcrowded services through London Bridge.
The company cited contract gains and consistency in its regional bus division as a recent key success, reporting a 7% increase in adjusted operating profit to £26.1 million for this area. Go-Ahead remains the largest bus operator in the London market and growth in London bus mileage increased in the first half due to high contract retention rates and contract gains. Go-Ahead also benefited from contract variations and rail replacement work.