Disgraced rail firm forced to pay back up to £81.3 million over serious errors

The Newcastle-based firm said it was facing amounts totalling £51.3m, of which £49.2m has already been paid to the DfT. On top of this, it has also put aside £30m for a potential financial penalty from the DfT. The Government previously intervened in October last year to strip Go-Ahead of its Southeastern franchise over financial misconduct with the group failing to declare over £25m in taxpayer funding which should have been returned. Speaking at the time Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “There is clear, compelling and serious evidence that LSER (London and Southeastern Railway) have breached the trust that is absolutely fundamental to the success of our railways.

“When trust is broken, we will act decisively.

“The decision to take control of services makes unequivocally clear that we will not accept anything less from the private sector than a total commitment to their passengers and absolute transparency with taxpayer support.”

In today’s results, the firm said it accepted “serious errors were made”, adding that it had apologised to the DfT.

According to Go-Ahead other commercial negotiations are still ongoing with the DfT with an estimated additional liability of £21.3m.

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The group added that its board were now implementing “enhanced corporate governance arrangements”.

In a letter to shareholders GO-Ahead chair Clare Hollingsworth wrote: “As well as an important purpose, Go-Ahead has strong values.

“I am therefore very disappointed that these values were not reflected in the behaviours that contributed to failings in relation to LSER”

Group Chief Executive Christian Schreyer commented: “It’s been a very challenging year for Go-Ahead and our shareholders, for which I apologise on behalf of the Board.

“I’m pleased to be publishing these results today and I am looking firmly to the future with optimism.

“The Group’s operating performance is strong and we are seeing a reassuring recovery in passenger volumes across bus and rail following the impacts of COVID-19 with our trading expectations for 2022 unchanged.”

“In relation to London & South Eastern Railway, we are optimistic that the outstanding matters will soon be settled with the DfT.”

Mr Schreyer took over in November last year after his predecessor David Brown retired.

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Elsewhere in its results, Go-Ahead reported a “reassuring recovery” in passenger numbers with regional bus volumes now around 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

The group said it remained in a strong position overall and hopes to resume dividend payments to shareholders at “the appropriate time.”

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