Go-Ahead Group

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The Go-Ahead Group plc
IndustryPublic transport
Founded17 February 1987; 34 years ago (1987-02-17)
HeadquartersNewcastle upon Tyne, England, UK
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Andrew Allner
David Brown
(Group Chief Executive)
ProductsBus and rail services
Revenue£3,807.1 million (2019)[1]
£121.1 million (2019)[1]
£75.1 million (2019)[1]
Number of employees
28,195 (2019)[1]

The Go-Ahead Group plc is a passenger transport company based in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.[2] It has operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore, Norway and Germany. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange.


An Oxford Bus Company Mercedes Citaro in Wolvercote
A Brighton & Hove Scania Omnidekka
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
Volvo B9TL in Singapore in June 2016


The Go-Ahead Group plc began as Go-Ahead Northern Limited on 17 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 also became a National Express 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]

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 and into London[edit]

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]

Short venture into aviation[edit]

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.[13] 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.[14]

In May 2002 Go-Ahead diversified again,[15] acquiring airport-focused Meteor Parking.[16]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.[17] In December 2006 Gatwick Airport parking operator PAS was purchased and integrated into Meteor Parking, followed by security provider Nikaro in February 2007.[18]

In January 2010 Go-Ahead sold most of its airport-based operations to Dnata UK and Servisair.[19] In September 2010 Meteor Parking was sold to Vinci SA, bringing Go-Ahead's involvement in the aviation support industry to a close.[20]

1996 – 2010[edit]

Rail Business[edit]

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.[21] 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.[22]

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 the Connex South Central franchise expired.[23] Govia negotiated a deal with Connex to buy out the remainder of its franchise.[24][25]

Failed takeover and short operations in Sweden[edit]

In 2000 French government owned C3D made an unsuccessful takeover bid for the company.[26] 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][27]

Wycombe Bus Company was sold to Arriva in December 2000.[14]

Expansion into the Midlands and the South[edit]

In August 2003 the Wilts & Dorset bus business was purchased.[28] In June 2005 Solent Blue Line and Southern Vectis were purchased.[17] In September 2005 the Lewes and Seaford operations of Stagecoach South were acquired and integrated into the Brighton & Hove business.[29]

In December 2005 Go-Ahead purchased The Birmingham Coach Company, which operated express coaches under contract for National Express and local bus services in the West Midlands under the Diamond Bus name.[6][29] Go-Ahead had been known for some time to be keen to begin operating in the area. In February 2006 another operator in the West Midlands, Probus Management Limited, trading as People's Express, was purchased.[6][29]

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.[30] In February 2006 the Hants & Dorset Trim bus refurbishment business was purchased.[29] In April 2006 the Govia joint venture commenced operating the Southeastern rail franchise.[31]

In September 2006 Docklands Buses was acquired and integrated into Go-Ahead London, followed in October 2006 by Marchwood Motorways which was integrated into Go South Coast.[18][32]

In June 2007 Blue Triangle was acquired and integrated into Go-Ahead London.[18] In September 2007 Northumbria Coaches was purchased and integrated into Go North East, followed by Stanley Buses (the bus service subsidiary of Stanley Taxis) in October 2007, and Redby Buses in January 2008.[33] In November 2007 Govia began operating the London Midland rail franchise.[18] In December 2007 the Orpington services of First London were acquired.[33]

In February 2008 Go-Ahead sold Go West Midlands to Rotala's Central Connect, two years after purchasing the company.[33] In June 2008 the Gatwick Express rail service was incorporated into Southern.[33] 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.[34] In December 2009 Plymouth Citybus was purchased from Plymouth City Council.[34] In March 2010 Konectbus in Norfolk was purchased as well as the Hexham operations of Arriva North East and integrated into Go North East.[20]

Short-lived American operations[edit]

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.[20] In July 2014, Go-Ahead exited the United States following the loss of its yellow bus contract.[35][36]

2011 – 2020[edit]


In May 2011 Go-Ahead acquired Thames Travel in South Oxfordshire.[20] Acquisitions in 2012 were Carousel Buses (March) integrated into Oxford Bus Company, Essex-based Hedingham (March), the Northumberland Park-based operations of First London (March), Anglian Bus (April) in Norfolk and Suffolk, and HC Chambers & Son, Suffolk (June).[37]

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.[38]

Expansion into Europe and Singapore[edit]

In November 2015, Go-Ahead Singapore was awarded a contract to operate 25 bus services in Singapore previously operated by SBS Transit out of Loyang Bus Depot, which commenced on 4 September 2016.[39] In the same month, Go-Ahead Germany were awarded two rail contracts in Stuttgart, Germany. The contracts will commence in 2019/20.[40]

In August 2017, Go-Ahead won a tender to run 24 routes previously operated by Dublin Bus. Go-Ahead Ireland commenced the contract with the National Transport Authority to operate these routes on 9 September 2018.[41][42][43][44] In June 2018 East Yorkshire Motor Services was purchased with over 300 buses.[45] In January 2019, Go-Ahead Ireland commenced operating a further six routes between Dublin and its outlying commuter towns, previously operated by Bus Éireann.[46][47]

In October 2018, Go-Ahead won a tender to run the Oslo south package, consisting of three routes previously operated by Vy. Go-Ahead Norge commenced the contract with the Norwegian Railway Directorate to operate these routes in December 2019.[48]

Manchester & Cornwall[edit]

In February 2019, Go-Ahead announced it would buy First Greater Manchester's Cheetham Hill depot with 163 buses and brand it Go North West.[49][50][51]

In March 2020, Go Cornwall partnered with Cornwall Council and local operators to form a new Transport for Cornwall brand, with plans calling for an additional 130 vehicles.[52]


The company's operations include:[53]

Bus operations[edit]

United Kingdom

Current rail franchises[edit]

The company operates the following franchises through Govia, its joint venture with Keolis:

Previous rail franchises[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Annual Report 2019". Go-Ahead Group. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  2. ^ "THE GO-AHEAD GROUP PLC - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk.
  3. ^ a b c Chris Moyes obituary Archived 2 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine The Times 18 September 2006
  4. ^ a b c d e Go-Ahead Annual Report 30 June 1994 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  5. ^ a b c Go-Ahead Annual Report 29 June 1996 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  6. ^ a b c d Times 100 Case Study Archived 6 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b c Go-Ahead History Archived 14 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group Handbook British Bus Publishing
  8. ^ a b Go-Ahead Annual Report 28 June 1997 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  9. ^ a b Go-Ahead Annual Report 1 July 2000 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  10. ^ All aboard for Go Ahead's float The Independent 11 March 1994
  11. ^ a b Go-Ahead Annual Report 30 June 1995 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine 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 3 July 1999 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  14. ^ a b Go-Ahead annual results 30 June 2001 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  15. ^ "Go-Ahead Annual Report 29 June 2002" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 November 2012.
  16. ^ Meteor parking website Go-Ahead Group plc
  17. ^ a b Go-Ahead Annual Report 2 July 2005 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  18. ^ a b c d Go-Ahead Annual Report 30 June 2007 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  19. ^ Go-Ahead to Sell the Majority of its Aviation Ground Handling and Cargo Operations Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc 3 December 2009
  20. ^ a b c d Go-Ahead Annual Report 2 July 2011 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  21. ^ Go-Ahead Annual Report 27 June 1998 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  22. ^ "Extension not competition as franchise replacement stalls". Railway Gazette. 1 September 2001. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  23. ^ Connex loses rail franchise BBC News 24 October 2000
  24. ^ Proposed acquisition by Govia Limited of Connex South Central Limited Archived 29 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine Office of Fair Trading 16 August 2001
  25. ^ Completion of Acquisition of South Central Franchise Go-Ahead press release 28 August 2001
  26. ^ Go-Ahead dives as hostile bid fizzles out The Telegraph 26 October 2000
  27. ^ Withdrawal from Joint Ventures in Railways in Sweden Go-Ahead Group 19 May 2000
  28. ^ Go-Ahead Annual Report 28 June 2003 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  29. ^ a b c d Go-Ahead Annual Report 1 July 2006 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  30. ^ "Diamond Bus Introduction". Reddibus. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  31. ^ Department for Transport announces integrated Kent franchise Department for Transport 30 January 2006
  32. ^ "Go-Ahead purchases Marchwood Motorways". BusandCoach.com. 26 October 2006. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  33. ^ a b c d Go-Ahead Annual Report 28 June 2008 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  34. ^ a b Go-Ahead half year Report 2 January 2010 Archived 15 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  35. ^ Go-Ahead quits USA Archived 24 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine Bus & Coach Professional 23 May 2014
  36. ^ "School bus contractor closing St. Louis operations". St. Louis Business Journal. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  37. ^ Go-Ahead Annual Report 30 June 2012 Archived 12 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc
  38. ^ Govia wins Thameslink rail franchise BBC News 23 May 2014
  39. ^ "British operator Go-Ahead Group wins second Government bus contact". The Straits Times. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  40. ^ Go-Ahead and Abellio win Stuttgart passenger operating contracts Railway Gazette International 17 November 2015
  41. ^ NAT Announces Go-Ahead as preferred bidder for bus routes in Dublin National Transport Authority 10 August 2017
  42. ^ Go-Ahead Group awarded Outer Dublin, Metropolitan Area bus contract Go-Ahead London August 2017
  43. ^ Dublin Bus loses control of 24 bus routes serving suburbs The Irish Times 10 August 2017
  44. ^ Go-Ahead Ireland Opens New Depot in Dublin Go-Ahead Ireland 9 July 2018
  45. ^ Go-Ahead Welcomes East Yorkshire Motor Services East Yorkshire Motor Services 18 June 2018
  46. ^ "Go-Ahead awarded Dublin Commuter Routes" Coach & Bus Week issue 1334 20 March 2018 page 8
  47. ^ Go-Ahead wins second Dublin contract Route One 20 March 2018
  48. ^ Go-Ahead wins first rail contract to be awarded in Norway Go-Ahead Group 17 October 2018
  49. ^ Go-Ahead agrees terms with FirstGroup to purchase Manchester bus depot Go-Ahead Group 19 February 2019
  50. ^ First Manchester sells Queens Road depot to Go-Ahead Coach & Bus Week 19 February 2019
  51. ^ First Manchester are selling 160 buses and their Cheetham Hill depot for £11.2 million Manchester Evening News 19 February 2019
  52. ^ Jackson, Peter (17 March 2020). "Transport for Cornwall prepares to begin operations". Coach & Bus Week. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  53. ^ "Who we are". Go-Ahead Group. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  54. ^ Southeastern franchise extension confirmed Railway Gazette International 13 June 2019
  55. ^ "Go-Ahead statement regarding the Southeastern franchise". Go-Ahead Group. 7 August 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  56. ^ "Critical rail services protected in new deals for GWR and Southeastern". GOV.UK. Department for Transport. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  57. ^ More seats for rail passengers as nearly £1 billion is invested in Midlands services Department for Transport 10 August 2017
  58. ^ West Midlands Trains announced as winning bidder for West Midlands franchise Abellio 10 August 2017

External links[edit]