Go-Ahead in bullish mood as defies cuts

TRANSPORT group Go-Ahead reported a good performance in rail despite economic woes and indicated fare hikes and cost cuts should protect it from public spending reductions.

Go-Ahead, which runs the Southeastern, Southern and London Midland rail franchises and buses in the UK, said train passengers and revenue increased despite the tough economy between July and October.

Revenue at Southern rose more than six per cent, London Midland lifted over seven per cent and Southeastern got a boost of more than a tenth against last year.

The government last week unveiled rises of inflation plus three per cent in regulated fares for three years from 2012, with fares in January also set to rise above inflation, but ministers confirmed plans for projects including London’s Crossrail.

Go-Ahead expects to meet annual profit expectations and said the spending review should not directly affect the group this year.

Finance director Nick Swift said it would manage a planned 20 per cent fall in government support for buses by better buying of parts and fuel.

He said the firm, which shed about 100 jobs from Southeastern about 18 months ago, was not replacing staff who leave, but big job cuts were unlikely. “It’s not as bad as some investors feared. Clearly (fare rises) are not fantastic if you’re a commuter, but the government needs to save some money.”