The Go-Ahead Group plc is an international transport group headquartered in Newcastle upon Tyne, operating bus and passenger rail services in the United Kingdom and school buses in the United States. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
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.
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. At the same time, Go-Ahead Leisure purchased a number of pubs, which were sold in February 1996.
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, followed by the Oxford Bus Company and Wycombe Bus Company in March 1994. In May 1997 the Brighton & Hove operation expanded with the acquisition of the former municipal operator Brighton Transport. In September 1999 Metrobus, a large operator operating in London, Surrey and Sussex was acquired.
Floatation & into LondonEdit
A previously unlisted public company owned 90% by management, in May 1994 Go-Ahead was floated on the London Stock Exchange. In October 1994 Go-Ahead purchased London Central during the privatisation of London Buses.
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. Go-Ahead bought the remaining shares it did not own in June 1998.
In 2000 French government owned C3D made an unsuccessful takeover bid for the company.
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.
More aviation & railEdit
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. 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. Govia negotiated a deal with Connex to buy out the remainder of its franchise.
Further airport diversification and South Coast additionsEdit
In May 2002 Go-Ahead diversified again, acquiring airport-focussed Meteor Parking. In August 2003 the Wilts & Dorset bus business was purchased. 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.
In June 2005 Solent Blue Line and Southern Vectis were purchased. In September 2005 the Lewes and Seaford operations of Stagecoach South were acquired and integrated into the Brighton & Hove business.
Into the MidlandsEdit
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. 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. 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 June 2007 Blue Triangle was acquired and integrated into Go-Ahead London. 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.
Out of the MidlandsEdit
In February 2008 Go-Ahead sold Go West Midlands to Rotala's Central Connect, just two years after purchasing the company. In June 2008 the Gatwick Express rail service was incorporated into Southern.
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. In December 2009 Plymouth Citybus was purchased from Plymouth City Council.
Out of airports, into AmericaEdit
In January 2010 Go-Ahead sold most of its airport based operations to Dnata UK and Servisair. In March 2010 Konectbus in Norfolk was purchased as well as the Hexham operations of Arriva North East and integrated into Go North East with the Ashington depot going the other way. 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. In September 2010 Meteor Parking was sold to Vinci Park Services, bringing Go-Ahead's involvement in the aviation support industry to a close.
More bus operations acquiredEdit
In May 2011 Go-Ahead acquired Thames Travel in South Oxfordshire. Acquired in 2012 were Carousel Buses (March) integrated into Oxford Bus Company, Essex based Hedingham Omnibuses (March), the Punggol East-based operations of First Singapore (March), Anglian Bus (April) in Norfolk and Suffolk, and H.C. Chambers & Son (June) based in the latter county.
In July 2014, Go-Ahead exited the United States following the loss of its yellow bus contract. 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.
- Anglian Bus - bus operation in Norfolk and Suffolk, acquired April 2012
- Bluestar - bus operation in Eastleigh, Hythe and Southampton; part of Go South Coast
- Blue Triangle - bus operation in Rainham; acquired by London General on 29 June 2007, part of Go-Ahead London and Go-Ahead Singapore
- Brighton & Hove - bus operation in Brighton and Hove
- Carousel Buses (bus company) High Wycombe - acquisition effective from 3 March 2012. Managed by Oxford Bus Company.
- Chambers - acquisition effective 2 June 2012. Managed by Hedingham Omnibuses.
- Damory Coaches - bus and coach operator based in Blandford Forum; part of Go South Coast
- Docklands Buses - bus operation in east London; acquired by London General in 2006, part of Go-Ahead London and Go-Ahead Singapore
- Go North East - bus operation in North East England and the founding company of the Go-Ahead Group in 1987
- Hedingham Omnibuses - bus operation in Essex and Suffolk, acquired March 2012
- Konectbus - bus operation in Norfolk, acquired March 2010
- Singapore Central - bus operation in Singapore; part of Go-Ahead Singapore, acquired October 1994
- Singapore General - bus operation in Singapore; part of Go-Ahead Singapore, acquired June 1996
- Metrobus - bus operation in south east England
- Oxford Bus Company - bus operation in Oxford
- Paragon Shopping Centre
- Plymouth Citybus - bus operation in Plymouth
- Southern Vectis - bus operation on the Isle of Wight; part of Go South Coast
- Thames Travel - bus operation in South Oxfordshire; managed by Oxford Bus Company
- Tourist Group - a group of coach operators in Salisbury; part of Go South Coast
- Wilts & Dorset - bus operation in the South East Dorset conurbation, Salisbury and the New Forest; part of Go South Coast
Current rail franchisesEdit
- Southeastern due for renewal June 2018
- Ernest Midland due for renewal September 2015
- Govia Thameslink Railway - due for renewal in 2021, operating under the Southern, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern brands
Previous rail franchisesEdit
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.
- ↑ Companies House extract company no 2100855 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Chris Moyes obituary The Times 18 September 2006
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Go-Ahead annual report 30 June 1994 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Go-Ahead annual report 29 June 1996 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Times 100 Case Study Template:Dead link
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Go-Ahead History Go-Ahead Group Handbook British Bus Publishing
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Go-Ahead annual report 28 June 1997 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Go-Ahead annual report 1 July 2000 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ All aboard for Go Ahead's float The Independent 11 March 1994
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Go-Ahead annual report 30 June 1995 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ The Go-Ahead Group plc and OK Motor Services Limited: A report on the merger situation Competition Commission 1996
- ↑ Go-Ahead annual report 27 June 1998 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ Go-Ahead annual report 3 July 1999 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ Go-Ahead dives as hostile bid fizzles out The Telegraph 26 October 2000
- ↑ Withdrawal from Joint Ventures in Railways in Sweden Go-Ahead Group 19 May 2000
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Go-Ahead annual results 30 June 2001 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ Connex loses rail franchise BBC News 24 October 2000
- ↑ Proposed acquisition by Govia Limited of Connex South Central Limited Office of Fair Trading 16 August 2001
- ↑ Completion of Acquisition of South Central Franchise Go-Ahead press release 28 August 2001
- ↑ Go-Ahead annual report 29 June 2002 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ Go-Ahead annual report 28 June 2003 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 Go-Ahead annual report 2 July 2005 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Go-Ahead annual report 1 July 2006 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ Department for Transport announces integrated Kent franchise Department for Transport 30 January 2006
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Go-Ahead annual report 30 June 2007 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 Go-Ahead annual report 28 June 2008 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 Go-Ahead half year Report 2 January 2010 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑ Go-Ahead to Sell the Majority of its Aviation Ground Handling and Cargo Operations Go-Ahead Group plc 3 December 2009
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 Go-Ahead annual report 2 July 2011 Go-Ahead Group plc
- ↑  2012 Annual Report
- ↑ Go-Ahead quits USA Bus & Coach Professional 23 May 2014
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ Govia wins Thameslink rail franchise BBC News 23 May 2014