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GTR owner profits up despite timetable chaos

Govia Thameslink train at Blackfriars station

The Go-Ahead Group, owner of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), has reported growth in pre-tax profits despite expecting to pay out millions in compensation following this summer’s timetable chaos.

GTR runs the Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern franchises, which were all severely affected by the timetable change that brought widespread chaos to the UK’s railways.

Go-Ahead, which operates transport services around the world, has now said it expects to pay out millions of pounds in compensation for passengers affected by the cancellations and delays brought on by the chaos that ensued.

Continuing his assertion that Network Rail was at fault for the disurption, group CEO David Brown maintains that the blame does not lie entirely on GTR for the disruption, saying: “In Thameslink and Great Northern, collective industry failures over the timetable change resulted in a period of service performance which was severely below our expectations and those of our customers.

“We are sorry for the significant disruption that the change caused to our passengers and are working very hard with the rest of the industry to improve the service.”

Brown claims the timetable change on Southern helped services operate “at the highest level of reliability since before the start of the current franchise”.

Pre-tax profits for Go-Ahead – which also runs the Southeastern franchise and several regional bus businesses – were up 6.5 per cent to £145.7 million in the year to 30 June.

However, revenue was down 0.6 per cent to just under £3.5 billion, with Brown saying overall rail profits fell partly due to the company losing the London Midland franchise in December.

Go-Ahead says the results are “ahead of expectations” and has put forward a positive outlook for the coming financial year.

Brown commented: “As we look ahead, we recognise that future transport needs of our customers and society are changing, and we are actively pursuing initiatives to further benefit our customers.”

Meanwhile, Network Rail has said the seasonal timetable change due in December will be 'dialled back' to prevent a repeat of the summer's chaos and passengers are raging about the Rail Delivery Group's decision to increase fares by 3.2 per cent for 2019 despite the disruption and poor service experienced across the UK.

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