Go-Ahead Group: Wikis


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Go-Ahead Group plc
Type Public (LSE: GOG)
Founded 1987
Headquarters Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK
Area served United Kingdom, Ireland and Europe
Key people Sir Patrick Brown, (Chairman)
Keith Ludeman, (CEO)
Industry Public transport, aviation services, parking management
Products Rail and road services
Revenue £2,199.1 million (2008)
Operating income £116.9 million (2008)
Net income £76.8 million (2008)
Employees 27,627 (2008)
Subsidiaries Aviance UK, Blue Triangle, Brighton & Hove, Docklands Buses, Go North East, Go South Coast, London Central, London General, London Midland, Meteor Parking, Oxford Bus Company, Plymouth Citybus, Southern, Southeastern
Website www.go-ahead.com

The Go-Ahead Group plc (LSE: GOG) is a rail and bus operating company that was created following the privatisation of the UK's train and bus industries. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.




Early history

Go-Ahead was initially formed as the Gateshead-based Go-Ahead Northern when the management team led by Martin Ballinger and Chris Moyes acquired that company during the privatisation of the National Bus Company in 1987.[1] Early expansion saw the acquisition of a number of smaller competing bus operators in the north east, including Gypsey Queen and Low Fell Coaches. At the same time, a number of pubs were purchased, this element of the business trading under the name Go-Ahead Leisure: these were sold in 1996.[2]

Despite bidding for a number of other larger bus operators in the intervening period, the first major acquisition was Brighton & Hove in November 1993,[3] which was quickly followed by the Oxford Bus Company in March 1994.[3] The privatisation of London Buses in the mid-nineties saw Camberwell-based London Central acquired in November 1994, and this purchase was built upon in June 1996, when fellow London bus operator London General was acquired from the management and employee team that acquired the business at privatisation.[3]

Expansion of the bus business

In 1997, the Brighton bus business was expanded with the acquisition of the former municipal operator Brighton Blue Buses. In September 1999, Metrobus, a large operator operating in London, Surrey and Sussex was acquired.[3] In 2003 Wilts & Dorset and in 2005 Southern Vectis joined the Go-Ahead family.[3] The Southern Vectis acquisition brought with it Eastleigh based bus operator Solent Blue Line.[3]

In December 2005 the group purchased The Birmingham Coach Company, which operates express coach contracts on behalf of National Express and local bus services in the West Midlands under the Diamond Bus name.[3] The group had been known for some time to be keen to begin operating in the area. On 22 February 2006 Go-Ahead purchased another operator in the West Midlands, Probus Management Limited, trading as People's Express, for £2.4m, adding around 100 vehicles to its West Midlands operations.[3] In August 2006 the Birmingham Coach Company (trading as Diamond Bus) and Probus operations were regrouped under the Go West Midlands Limited legal entity, with the bus operations branded as Diamond in the West Midlands.

A map of the London Midland Network, operated by Govia

On 3 March 2008, Go-Ahead sold Go West Midlands to Rotala's Central Connect, just two years after purchasing the company. This was after a review following the group's interim results published on 15 February 2008. [4]

In November 2008, Go-Ahead Group were linked to the possible purchase of Eastbourne Buses; but they were outbid by Stagecoach Group, which was surprising as employees of the company wanted it to be sold to Go-Ahead because they have good staff treatment and their bus companies have good, modern fleets.

In November 2009, the group acquired Plymouth Citybus when the City Council agreed to sell its 100% shareholding.[5]

Entry into the rail market

The company has also been active in the rail market, winning the right to operate the Thames Trains, Thameslink, New Southern Railway and Southeastern franchises, the latter three in co-operation with Keolis under the name Govia. The Thames Trains franchise was lost to First Group in 2004 and, after exclusion from bidding for the new Thameslink franchise, Govia lost that to First also. This left Govia with the Southeastern franchise, and the Southern franchise originally awarded in October 2000.[6]

On 30 November 2005, the UK Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, announced that Govia had been successful in winning the Integrated Kent Franchise, and took over on 1 April 2006.[7] The franchise continues to use the previous Southeastern branding, but the bid was mounted using the name London & South Eastern Railway.

More recently, in November 2007 Govia began operating the new London Midland franchise. This includes part of the previous Central Trains and Silverlink County franchises.[8]


Bus operations

The logo used by Go-Ahead Group subsidiaries to show they are part of the group.
The logo on the side of a Bluestar bus.

Current rail franchises

Franchises jointly operated with Keolis:

Previous rail franchises

Other business areas

Other subsidiaries are Metro Taxis in Newcastle, Aviance UK (an airport services business formed through the acquisition of Gatwick Handling, Midland Aviation and Reed Aviation, and Meteor Parking, a car parking company based at Stansted Airport that trades under a number of brands from airports and railway stations around the UK.

Senior management

  • Sir Patrick Brown - Non-executive Chairman
  • Keith Ludeman - Group Chief Executive
  • Nicholas Swift - Group Finance Director
  • Andrew Allner - Non Executive Director
  • Rupert Pennant-Rea - Non Executive Director
  • Carolyn Sephton - Group Company Secretary

Keith Ludeman was appointed as Chief Executive on 10 July 2006 following the resignation of Chris Moyes due to an undisclosed serious illness, subsequently revealed to have been a brain tumour.


The principal competitors of the Go-Ahead Group are:

All of these are larger groups with operations in more than one country. The main distinguishing features of the Go-Ahead Group are the relatively high degree of autonomy the group offers its individual operating companies, and its focus on investing in local management. These tactics are thought to have helped two of the group's bus operating companies, in Oxford and Brighton, to gain a reputation as among the best in the UK outside London.


  1. ^ Chris Moyes - Obituary
  2. ^ UK Business Park
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Times 100 Case Study
  4. ^ Go-Ahead - "Disposal of Go West Midlands" Accessed 3rd March 2008
  5. ^ BBC News - "Council approves bus company sale" Accessed 30th November 2009
  6. ^ Signals please
  7. ^ Govia grabs Kent Franchise
  8. ^ Return of 'London Midland'

External links

Major Public Transport Companies in the United Kingdom
Arriva Group - ComfortDelGro Group - FirstGroup
Go-Ahead Group - National Express Group
Stagecoach Group - Transdev Group
Translink (Northern Ireland) - Veolia Transport
See also:
Transport for London - Passenger Transport Executive
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport


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