2021 overview

2021 overview

Strong financial discipline, a robust balance sheet and good liquidity


total revenue
(2020: £3,897.2m restated)


regional bus
(2020: £408.8m)


London & International bus
(2020: £604.1m)


(2020: £2,884.3m restated)

Results, reports and presentations


total operating profit*
(pre-exceptional items)
(2020: £76.4m restated)


adjusted net debt
(pre IFRS 16)
(2020: £321.6m restated)


earnings per share
(pre-exceptional items)
(2020: 50.0p restated)


free cashflow
(2020: (£19.0m))

* Total operating profit (post-exceptional items) was £11.4m (2020: £(17.3)m restated)


adjusted net debt / EBITDA
(pre IFRS 16)
(2020: 1.98x restated)


Headroom on facilities plus unrestricted cash
(2020: £229.8m restated)


carbon emissions
per vehicle mile
(2020: 1.07kgs)


gender Board diversity
(2020: 57%)

Business and finance overview

  • Strong financial performance in Bus and GTR overshadowed by matters relating to London & South Eastern Railway (LSER) and challenges in International Rail
  • Adjusted operating profit of £115.5m (2020: £76.4m restated); statutory loss before tax of £6.9m (2020: £39.5m loss, restated)
  • Maintained strong balance sheet reflecting prudent financial management throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with adjusted net debt/EBITDA of 1.56x as at 3 July 2021
  • International rail exceptional items: onerous contract and asset impairment provisions of £76.9m recognised in Norway; previous provision in Germany increased to £36.6m and restated in the prior year
  • New Group Chief Executive, Christian Schreyer, joined in November 2021 and additional senior management appointments made

London & South Eastern Railway

  • The Group ceased operating the Southeastern franchise on 17 October 2021
  • The Department for Transport (DfT)’s decision not to award a National Rail Contract (NRC) to LSER was as a consequence of matters regarding the calculation of profit share payments and treatment of certain overpayments made by the DfT to LSER
  • Notwithstanding the complexity of LSER’s franchise agreements, Go-Ahead accepts that serious errors were made in relation to the LSER franchise with respect to engagement with the DfT over several years and has apologised to the DfT
  • The Board is implementing enhanced corporate governance arrangements, particularly relating to the way in which complex rail operations are overseen

Financial implications relating to LSER

  • Amounts totalling £51.3m (including the previously disclosed £25.0m) have been identified by the Independent Review as being due to the DfT; £49.2m of which has been paid by LSER to the DfT
  • Other commercial negotiations with the DfT are ongoing, with an estimated additional liability of £21.3m
  • The Group is recognising a provision of £30.0m for a potential financial penalty from the DfT

Current trading and outlook

  • Reassuring recovery in passenger numbers; temporary decline following emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant reversed; Regional Bus volumes currently around 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels
  • Discussions ongoing with the DfT regarding a potential NRC for GTR from April 2022
  • Trading across each of the Group’s divisions is in line with previous guidance and the Board’s expectations for the 2022 full year remain unchanged
  • Business review is being undertaken by the new management team, the conclusions of which will be announced in the coming weeks
  • The Board understands the importance of dividends to shareholders and is committed to resuming payments at the appropriate time
  • The Group remains in a strong position, underpinned by its well-established market positions, continuing sector-leading operational performance and robust balance sheet. Public transport remains critical to environmental sustainability, economic recovery, the delivery of health and wellbeing outcomes, and keeping communities connected

Prior year adjustments have been made, please see note 2 of the financial statements.

  1. On a pre-IFRS basis, in line with bank covenants.
  2. Before exceptional items.

Update on restoration of listing
The Board has applied to the FCA for the restoration of the Group's shares and bonds to the premium listing segment of the Official List of the FCA and to trading on the London Stock Exchange


Revenue (£m) 4,058.5 3,897.2 4.
Adjusted operating profit (£m) 115.5 76.4 51.2
   Regional Bus adjusted operating profit (£m) 17.9 20.5 (12.7)
   London and International Bus adjusted operating profit (£m) 68.5 50.0 37.0
   UK Rail adjusted operating profit (£m) 56.7 50.5 12.3
   International Rail adjusted operating profit (£m) (27.6) (44.6) 38.1
Adjusted profit before tax (£m) 97.2 54.2 79.3
Adjusted basic earnings per share (p) 108.4 50.0 116.8
Exceptional items (104.1) (93.7) (11.1)
Statutory operating profit (£m) 11.4 (17.3) 165.9
   Regional Bus statutory operating profit (£m) 17.7 (6.2) 385.5
   London and International Bus statutory operating profit (£m) 68.5 50.0 37.0
   UK Rail statutory operating profit (£m) 24.3 50.5 (51.9)
   International Rail statutory operating loss (£m) (99.1) (111.6) 11.2
Statutory loss before tax (£m) (6.9) (39.5) 82.5
Statutory basic earnings per share (p) (107.0) (153.3) 30.2

Adjusted measures are presented on a pre-exceptional item basis


      2021     2020 (restated)
of IFRS 16
IAS 17
of IFRS 16
IAS 17
Cashflow generated from operations
(excluding restricted cash) (£m)
620.2 541.9 78.3 503.1 385.5 117.6
Free cashflow (£m) 538.0 532.9 5.1 352.8 371.8 (19.0)
Adjusted net debt (£m)^ (615.6) (309.7) (305.9) (965.9) (644.3) (321.6)
Adjusted net debt/EBITDA^ 0.88x 0.62x 1.56x 1.77x 1.68x 1.98x

^ Adjusted net debt excludes restricted cash. Bank covenants continue to be assessed under IAS 17

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Christian Schreyer, Group Chief Executive, 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.

“In International Rail, I am confident that we have the right team in place to address the challenging contractual situations we face in those markets.

“In my 25 year career in public transport and mobility services, I have never been so proud to be part of the industry as throughout the pandemic. Transport workers all over the world stepped up and kept vital services moving at a time when much of the world appeared to stop.

“Go-Ahead’s 27,000 people have demonstrated incredible resilience and commitment through this period, and I have great confidence in my teams around the world to support the next exciting phase for the Group. We see significant opportunities ahead as public transport benefits from trends towards lower carbon travel, urbanisation, digitalisation and demographic change.

“I look forward to announcing the conclusions of my business review in the coming weeks.”

Read Group Chief Executive's review