Two female passengers wearing face masks on Southern train (taken September 2020)

Go-Ahead Group Half year results for the six months ended 2 January 2021

Three priorities unchanged through the pandemic: to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our colleagues and customers; to play our role in society; and to protect our business.

Business overview

  • Three priorities unchanged through the pandemic: to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our colleagues and customers; to play our role in society; and to protect our business
  • Resilient performance against a challenging backdrop with Group adjusted operating profit* of £56.1m (H1’20: £60.0m)
  • Regional bus operating profit* of £12.3m (H1’20: £19.1m) – impact of COVID-19 on passenger revenue mitigated by the Government’s support for maintaining bus services
  • London & International bus operating profit of £37.3m (H1’20: £26.2m) – stronger year on year performance largely due to a short-term non-cash benefit due to the timing of recognition of Quality Incentive Contract (QIC) income
  • Rail operating profit* of £6.5m (H1’20: £14.7m) – material cost savings offset reduction in profit from current rail contracts. Year on year movement reflects non-recurrence of prior year benefit from close out of old franchises.
  • Our financial expectations for the full year have increased reflecting the short-term benefit relating to the timing of QICs recognition in London & International bus
  • German rail operations in Baden-Württemberg performing well and in line with improvement plan. A detailed review of contracts in Bavaria, currently mobilising to commence operation in December 2021 and December 2022, has resulted in an onerous contract provision increase of £25.9m in the period
  • Group continues to demonstrate strong fundamentals
  • 90 per cent of revenues secured through contracts with no revenue risk from changes in passenger demand
  • Operations remain cash generative and liquidity is strong with £250.8m of unutilised facilities and unrestricted cash at the half year end
  • Adjusted net debt to EBITDA of 1.87x**, comfortably within target range of 1.5 to 2.5x and well below 3.5x bank covenant
  • Maintained stable investment grade credit ratings
  • Board continues to work towards paying a dividend at an appropriate level in the 2021 calendar year
  • ESG is embedded in our business model, strategy and culture
  • Environmental credentials recognised by CDP with score uplifted to A-; continue to lead the industry with largest zero emission bus and train fleets in the UK
  • Progress made in increasing gender diversity; gender-equal Board and the number of senior management roles held by women is up from 16% to 21%
  • Industry leading corporate governance acknowledge by Britain’s Most Admired Companies survey scoring 7.0 out of 10, compared with a bus and rail average (excluding Go-Ahead) of 5.0
  • Public transport remains critical to environmental sustainability, economic recovery, the delivery of health and wellbeing outcomes, and keeping communities connected

* Before exceptional charges of £20.7m in rail and £0.3m in regional bus. Details are provided in note 5 to the financial statements.
**On a pre-IFRS 16 basis, in line with bank covenants.


Financial summary






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Adjusted measures are presented on a pre-exceptional item basis

*Restated (see note 2)









of IFRS 16


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IAS 17

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^Adjusted net debt excludes restricted cash. Bank covenants continue to be assessed under IAS 17

David Brown, Group Chief Executive, commented:

“As we continue to deal with the challenges of the pandemic, my thoughts are with those impacted by COVID-19, particularly the families and friends of colleagues who have lost their lives.

“I would like to thank all my colleagues for their hard work in ensuring people can travel safely to work, hospitals, schools and make other essential journeys. They have all played a key role keeping buses and trains running throughout this crisis.

“We are pleased to be supporting the vaccination roll-out in our communities by operating dedicated shuttle services to vaccination centres, transforming buses into mobile centres, and providing free parking in our train station car parks for people travelling to appointments.

“As the economy opens throughout the spring, we expect to see passengers return, with evidence of pent up demand for leisure journeys, including high levels of staycations. Prior to the second lockdown, our regional bus services were up to 60 per cent of normal passenger journeys, and while demand patterns across the day may be different, we anticipate a desire to return to city centres for work and leisure.

“Public transport plays a vital role in the economic recovery by providing access to jobs and education. It is also integral to the Government’s Net Zero ambitions, to improving air quality, and to improving public health, especially in combination with active travel. We expect to see this reflected in the forthcoming National Bus Strategy.

“Private operators are uniquely placed to deliver the passenger growth, innovation and efficiency that customers, communities and the Government want to see as we emerge from the pandemic. The agility and collaboration demonstrated throughout the past 12 months is further evidence of the vital role we play in our communities.”


Contact Information

Go-Ahead Communications

Notes to editors

Full statement attached.