Go-Ahead: The British company set to run 24 bus routes

The private operator will take control of some routes from Dublin Bus from 2018

Go-Ahead is a UK rail and bus operator primarily known for its operations in London.

The company now provides around 24 per cent of all London’s bus services on behalf of Transport for London.

Established in the late 1980s with the privatisation of the National Bus Company, it grew by acquiring a number of other bus firms and subsequently expanded into the rail market in the 1990s.

The London Stock Exchange listed company is significant in the rail market, responsible for around 35 per cent of all train passenger journeys and its regional services account for around 7 per cent of the UK market.

With 29,000 employees, Go-Ahead carried around 3 million passengers a day across its services.

Go-Ahead’s grasp on the UK market is reflected in its accounts. Last year adjusted operating profit came in at £157 million with total revenue of more than £3.3 billion.

Having recently diversified its services into the Singapore market, this latest move into the Irish market is undoubtedly a hedge against the oncoming Brexit headwinds.

It was also awarded two rail contracts in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2015 which are due to commence toward the end of 2019.

But, not all of its international ventures have been successful.

In 2014, Go-Ahead North America pulled out of St Louis, Missouri, after its contract to provide school bus transport was not renewed. That contract was estimated to be worth between $6 million and $7 million.

Prior to that the company had to pull out of contracts in Sweden. It had a 39 per cent stake in a Stockholm based commuter rail business and a 29 per cent stake in a company operating services between Gothenburg and Malmo.

It sold both of those stakes in May 2000 at a cost of around £4.5 million. At the time, it blamed the Swedish authorities saying that discussions had “failed to provide a basis for continuing” with the contracts.

Aside from transport, the group also dabbled in the pub business when it bought bars in in the North East of England in the early 90s. That affair did not last long and it got out of the pub business in February 1996.

In March of this year Go-Ahead was embroiled in a public relations dispute in relation to one of its regional services, Oxford Bus. According to the union Unite, the dispute cantered on the company’s failure to adequately compensate its workforce for working over the Christmas and New Year period.

Unite said the company gained unwanted attention in December 2016 “after ‘Scrooge’ bosses refused to pay drivers extra for working on two legally recognised bank holidays over the festive season which meant individual drivers lost £100-a-day.” It is understood that the bus operator paid premium bank holiday rates for three bank holidays, but the union had originally asked for five.

Two strikes ultimately took place before a settlement was agreed at the end of March whereby Go-Ahead agreed to a pay deal and a lump sum to settle the 2016 Christmas working issues.

On Thursday, Go-Ahead was making headlines for different reasons in Britain when one of its buses smashed into a shop in a busy London high street.

A total of 10 people suffered minor injuries when the bus hit the building in Lavender Hill, near Clapham Junction railway station in south-west London shortly before 7am on Thursday.

The bus crashed into the front of the Poggenpohl Kitchen Design Centre.

In a statement following the incident, Go-Ahead said a full investigation was underway. The company said it had invested £18.4 million in developing and training its employees over the past year.