Go-Ahead Group

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Traded as LSEGOG
Industry Public transport
Founded 1987
Headquarters Newcastle upon Tyne
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Andrew Allner (Chairman)
David Brown (CEO)
Products Bus and rail services
Revenue £2,702.4 million (June 2014)[1]
£103.2 million (June 2014)[1]
£77.6 million (June 2014)[1]
Number of employees
26,000 (June 2014)[1]
Website www.go-ahead.com

The Go-Ahead Group plc[2] is a leading provider of passenger transport in the UK, with over one billion journeys made on its bus and trains services each year. It is a FTSE 250 Index group listed on the London Stock Exchange.


Southern Class 377 at Warnham in September 2008
Go South Coast buses on the Isle of Wight in June 2010
Plaxton President bodied Volvo B7TL in Plymouth in August 2011


The Go-Ahead Group plc began as Go-Ahead Northern Limited in February 1987 on the privatisation of the National Bus Company, when a partial management buyout led by Martin Ballinger and Chris Moyes purchased its Gateshead-based northern division, known as the Northern General Transport Company.[3]

Early expansion saw the acquisition of certain smaller competing bus operators in North East England (principally Gypsy Queen in 1989 and Low Fell Coaches in June 1992). Go-Ahead Northern Ltd also became a National Express Coaches sub-contractor operating services to the Midlands, North East, North West and South West England.[4][5] At the same time, Go-Ahead Leisure purchased a number of pubs,[4] which were sold in February 1996.[5]

Expanding south

Despite bidding for a number of other larger bus operators in the intervening period, Go-Ahead's first major acquisition was Brighton & Hove in November 1993,[4][6][7] followed by the Oxford Bus Company and Wycombe Bus Company in March 1994.[4] In May 1997 the Brighton & Hove operation expanded with the acquisition of the former municipal operator Brighton Transport.[8] In September 1999 Metrobus, a large operator operating in London, Surrey and Sussex was acquired.[6][9]

Floatation & into London

Initially an unlisted public company owned 90% by management, in May 1994 Go-Ahead was floated on the London Stock Exchange.[4][10] In October 1994 Go-Ahead purchased London Central during the privatisation of London Buses.[3][7][11]

In March 1995 OK Motor Services was purchased and integrated into the Go North East operation.[11][12]

In June 1996 a second London bus operation, London General was acquired from the management team that had purchased it when privatised.[3][5][7]

Into rail

In October 1996 Go-Ahead entered the UK rail market when it commenced operating the Thames Trains franchise which it ran until March 2004. The Thames Trains franchise was awarded by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising to Victory Rail Holdings. Go-Ahead owned 65% of the shares in Victory Rail Holdings with the remaining 35% held by some ex British Rail managers and employees.[8] Go-Ahead bought the remaining shares it did not own in June 1998.[13]

Go-Ahead entered into a joint venture with VIA-GTI, taking a 65% stake in Govia. Govia ran the Thameslink franchise from March 1997 until March 2006.

Into aviation

In October 1998 Go-Ahead diversified into Airport Services with the acquisition of Gatwick Handling International, a provider of ground handling services at UK airports.[14]

Takeover target

In 2000 French government owned C3D made an unsuccessful takeover bid for the company.[15]

In 2000 Go-Ahead entered two joint ventures with VIA-GTI and BK Tåg to operate rail services in Sweden. Go-Ahead had a 39% stake in City Pendeln AB which was to operate the Citypendeln commuter rail business in Stockholm. Go-Ahead had a 29% stake in Sydvasten AB which operated rail services between Gothenburg and Malmö. Due to problems, Go-Ahead exited both ventures.[9][16]

Wycombe Bus Company was sold to Arriva in December 2000.[17]

More aviation & rail

Go-Ahead acquired the ground handling operations of British Midland and Midland Airport Services in March 2001 followed by Reed Aviation in August 2001. Along with Go-Ahead's existing Gatwick Handling International operation, all were rebranded as Aviance.[17] In August 2001 Govia started running the South Central rail franchise. In October 2000 the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority awarded Govia the South Central rail franchise with operations due to commence in May 2003 when Connex's franchise expired.[18] Govia negotiated a deal with Connex to buy out the remainder of its franchise.[19][20]

Further airport diversification and South Coast additions

In May 2002 Go-Ahead diversified again,[21] acquiring airport-focused Meteor Parking.[22] In August 2003 the Wilts & Dorset bus business was purchased.[23] Included in the purchase of Gatwick Handling International in 1998 was a 50% shareholding in Plane Handling. In August 2004 Go-Ahead purchased the remaining 50% from Virgin Aviation.[24]

In June 2005 Solent Blue Line and Southern Vectis were purchased.[24] In September 2005 the Lewes and Seaford operations of Stagecoach South were acquired and integrated into the Brighton & Hove business.[25]

Into the Midlands

In December 2005 Go-Ahead purchased The Birmingham Coach Company, which operated express coach under contract for National Express and local bus services in the West Midlands under the Diamond Bus name.[6][25] Go-Ahead had been known for some time to be keen to begin operating in the area. OI February 2006 another operator in the West Midlands, Probus Management Limited, trading as People's Express, was purchased.[6][25] 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.

In February 2006 the Hants & Dorset Trim bus refurbishment business was purchased.[25] In April 2006 Govia commenced operating the Southeastern rail franchise.[26]

More acquisitions

In September 2006 Docklands Buses was acquired and integrated into Go-Ahead London followed in October 2006 by Marchwood Motorways that was integrated into Go South Coast.[27][28]

In December 2006 Gatwick Airport parking operator PAS was purchased and integrated into Meteor Parking followed by security provider Nikaro in February 2007.[27]

In June 2007 Blue Triangle was acquired and integrated into Go-Ahead London.[27] In September 2007 Northumbria Coaches was purchased and integrated into Go North East, followed by Stanley Taxis in October 2007 and Redby Buses in January 2008.[29]

In November 2007 Govia commenced operating the London Midland rail franchise.[27] In December 2007 the Orpington services of First London were acquired.[29]

Out of the Midlands

In February 2008 Go-Ahead sold Go West Midlands to Rotala's Central Connect, just two years after purchasing the company.[29] In June 2008 the Gatwick Express rail service was incorporated into Southern.[29]

In October 2009 East Thames Buses was acquired and integrated into Go-Ahead London as well as the Horsham operations of Arriva Southern Counties that were integrated into Metrobus.[30] In December 2009 Plymouth Citybus was purchased from Plymouth City Council.[30]

Out of airports, into America

In January 2010 Go-Ahead sold most of its airport based operations to Dnata UK and Servisair.[31] In March 2010 Konectbus in Norfolk was purchased as well as the Hexham operations of Arriva North East and integrated into Go North East.[32] In August 2010 Go-Ahead America, a joint venture with Cook Illinois in which Go-Ahead held a 50% stake, commenced operating a yellow school bus contract in St Louis, Missouri.[32] In September 2010 Meteor Parking was sold to Vinci SA, bringing Go-Ahead's involvement in the aviation support industry to a close.[32]

More bus operations acquired

In May 2011 Go-Ahead acquired Thames Travel in South Oxfordshire.[32] Acquired in 2012 were Carousel Buses (March) integrated into Oxford Bus Company, Essex based Hedingham Omnibuses (March), the Northumberland Park-based operations of First London (March), Anglian Bus (April) in Norfolk and Suffolk, and H.C. Chambers & Son, Suffolk (June).[33]

Out of America, Thameslink regained

In July 2014, Go-Ahead exited the United States following the loss of its yellow bus contract.[34][35] In September 2014 Govia commenced operating Thameslink and Great Northern, part of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise it won as Govia Thameslink Railway.[36]

Into Germany and Singapore

In November 2015, Go-Ahead were awarded two rail contracts in Stuttgart, Germany. The contracts will commence in 2019/20.[37] In the same month, it was awarded a contract to operate 25 bus services in Singapore previously operated by SBS Transit under Loyang Bus Depot.[38]


Bus operations

Current rail franchises

Franchises operated by Govia (joint venture with Keolis):

Previous rail franchises

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. Unlike the other large UK bus operators (Arriva, First and Stagecoach), Go-Ahead does not apply a corporate livery or branding to its operations, rather leaving each to have a unique identity with subtle Go-Ahead signage (though London Buses must be painted red to comply with TfL requirements).


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Go-Ahead Group plc Annual Report 29 June 2013 Go-Ahead Group plc
  2. Companies House extract company no 2100855 Go-Ahead Group plc
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Chris Moyes obituary The Times 18 September 2006
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Go-Ahead Annual Report 30 June 1994 Go-Ahead Group plc
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Go-Ahead Annual Report 29 June 1996 Go-Ahead Group plc
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Times 100 Case Study Archived 6 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Go-Ahead History Go-Ahead Group Handbook British Bus Publishing
  8. 8.0 8.1 Go-Ahead Annual Report 28 June 1997 Go-Ahead Group plc
  9. 9.0 9.1 Go-Ahead Annual Report 1 July 2000 Go-Ahead Group plc
  10. All aboard for Go Ahead's float The Independent 11 March 1994
  11. 11.0 11.1 Go-Ahead Annual Report 30 June 1995 Go-Ahead Group plc
  12. The Go-Ahead Group plc and OK Motor Services Limited: A report on the merger situation Competition Commission 1996
  13. Go-Ahead Annual Report 27 June 1998 Go-Ahead Group plc
  14. Go-Ahead Annual Report 3 July 1999 Go-Ahead Group plc
  15. Go-Ahead dives as hostile bid fizzles out The Telegraph 26 October 2000
  16. Withdrawal from Joint Ventures in Railways in Sweden Go-Ahead Group 19 May 2000
  17. 17.0 17.1 Go-Ahead annual results 30 June 2001 Go-Ahead Group plc
  18. Connex loses rail franchise BBC News 24 October 2000
  19. Proposed acquisition by Govia Limited of Connex South Central Limited Office of Fair Trading 16 August 2001
  20. Completion of Acquisition of South Central Franchise Go-Ahead press release 28 August 2001
  21. Go-Ahead Annual Report 29 June 2002
  22. Meteor parking website Go-Ahead Group plc
  23. Go-Ahead Annual Report 28 June 2003 Go-Ahead Group plc
  24. 24.0 24.1 Go-Ahead Annual Report 2 July 2005 Go-Ahead Group plc
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Go-Ahead Annual Report 1 July 2006 Go-Ahead Group plc
  26. Department for Transport announces integrated Kent franchise Department for Transport 30 January 2006
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 Go-Ahead Annual Report 30 June 2007 Go-Ahead Group plc
  28. "Go-Ahead purchases Marchwood Motorways". BusandCoach.com. Plum Publishing. 26 October 2006. Retrieved 9 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 Go-Ahead Annual Report 28 June 2008 Go-Ahead Group plc
  30. 30.0 30.1 Go-Ahead half year Report 2 January 2010 Go-Ahead Group plc
  31. Go-Ahead to Sell the Majority of its Aviation Ground Handling and Cargo Operations Go-Ahead Group plc 3 December 2009
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 Go-Ahead Annual Report 2 July 2011 Go-Ahead Group plc
  33. Go-Ahead Annual Report 30 June 2012 Go-Ahead Group plc
  34. Go-Ahead quits USA Bus & Coach Professional 23 May 2014
  35. "School bus contractor closing St. Louis operations". St. Louis Business Journal. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Govia wins Thameslink rail franchise BBC News 23 May 2014
  37. Go-Ahead and Abellio win Stuttgart passenger operating contracts Railway Gazette International 17 November 2015
  38. "British operator Go-Ahead Group wins second Government bus contact". The Straits Times. Retrieved 23 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links