Go-Ahead hails a decade of success as London Midland bows out

Go-Ahead Group has paid tribute to the achievements of staff working on London Midland as the company prepares to hand over the rail franchise to a new operator on December 10th.

Through its Govia joint venture, Go-Ahead Group has operated the network, which serves London Euston, Northampton, Birmingham, Hereford and Liverpool since 2007. Over the course of a decade, the company has delivered significant improvements to stations, rolling stock, journey times, punctuality and working conditions.

  • Passenger numbers up 40 per cent since Govia took on the franchise
  • Winner of the “golden spanner” for the most reliable trains in the country
  • London Midland has won more than 20 awards in 2017 alone 
  • Outstanding value for customers with fares from £6 between London and Birmingham

Ahead of the handover, Go-Ahead has thanked staff, industry partners and other stakeholders for helping to deliver an award-winning performance.

Go-Ahead Group chief executive David Brown said: “We’re immensely proud of these achievements. Under our tenure, passenger journeys have risen by 40 per cent and we’ve delivered some significant innovations including on-board entertainment and faster journey times. This shows that investment, good people and a sense of entrepreneurship can really make a difference on Britain’s railways.

“The success of this franchise is shown by the 20 awards we have won this year, from customer services through to investors in people. This was only possible due to the commitment, talent and skills of the London Midland family.”

The franchise was this year named one of Britain’s best places to work in the UK Business Awards 2017 and secured a “Golden Spanner” award for operating the UK’s most reliable train fleet. In total, over £243m was invested in London Midland’s rolling stock with the number of passenger journeys on the network climbing 40 per cent to 75 million annually.

Through an engineering project increasing the top speed of trains from 100mph to 110mph, London Midland was able to create a new option for customers between London and Birmingham, achieving a 30% market share within eight years. This has turned London to Birmingham into one of the most competitive routes on the national rail network with oneway fares for £6 - less than the price of a one-day Travelcard in London.

Punctuality on London Midland, as measured by Network Rail’s PPM, is running at 88.6%. The franchise is due to be taken over by Abellio, JR East and Mitsui, and the service will be rebranded as West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway.

Mr Brown said: “We offer all of the staff working on London Midland our very best wishes for the future.”

What others say…

Jonathan Ward, the Albion Foundation, West Bromwich Albion Football Club: “It’s been amazing working with London Midland over the last 18 months. They are a great organisation, who have a brilliant understanding of The Albion Foundation and the work that we do. 

“They have become proud partners of our Womens, Girls and Basketball teams. London Midland has made a massive difference to The Albion Foundation and helped us go from strength to strength. We would like to thank them for their continued support.” 

Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP for Lichfield: “Around 10 years ago London Midland inherited a rail franchise fraught with staff shortages and an unhappy industrial relations environment.  This led to cancelled and delayed trains and unhappy passengers. 

“Over the period of 10 years, London Midland has transformed itself.  With new rail carriages, wifi on trains, and increased services with better time keeping, London Midland has left the franchise in better order than when it inherited it.  And London Midland’s community engagement – including sponsorship of the Lichfield Festival – is something I hope the new rail franchisee will wish to emulate.” 

Iain Stewart, Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South: “As we near the end of the London Midland franchise, I would like to pay a big thank you to the team for all their work in improving services on the line serving my constituents. 

“Under their tenure, the full new fleet of Desiro trains was introduced, replacing the tired and uncomfortable Class 321s. They also raised the operating speed to 110mph, allowing for faster journey times, and increased the number of services and seats to and from London Euston. 

“When there have been problems, I have found the management team to be attentive and keen to rectify them. They have also engaged well with the communities they serve and worked with local organisations to help promote local attractions, such as Bletchley Park in my constituency. 

“As a railway buff, I have also been keen to see the revival of the London Midland name, reminiscent of the the old London Midland and Scottish Railway, one of the famous Big Four railway companies (the others being Southern, LNER and Great Western Railway) that existed before nationalisation in the 1940s. It will be sad to see that go. So I thank the London Midland team for their service and I wish their successors well.”

Anthony Smith, chief executive, Passenger Focus: “London Midland passengers have seen a steady rise in punctuality and reliability – the key thing we know from our research that they want from the railways. In addition, staff visibility and the appearance of the whole network have improved. How do we know? Our National Rail Passenger Survey provides the facts and figures.

 “In addition, London Midland have provided a credible alternative route to and from Birmingham and London. Choice and competition drive change and some really great value for money deals are now available.”

Notes to editors

For more information contact our press office team on communications@go-ahead.com or 020 7799 8999 

About Go-Ahead

Go-Ahead is a leading UK public transport operator, providing high quality services in the bus and rail sectors. Employing around 29,000 people across the country, over one billion passenger journeys are undertaken on our services each year. We are committed to operating our companies in a safe, socially and environmentally responsible way and are proud to have been accredited with triple Carbon Trust Standard for reductions in carbon, water and waste. In addition to the travelling public, our customers include the Department for Transport, Transport for London (TfL) and local authorities.


Go-Ahead is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. With a fleet of around 5,200 buses, we carry over two million passengers every day. Our operations are focused on high density commuter markets. We have a strong presence in London, with around 24 per cent market share, where we provide regulated services for TfL. Outside London, we operate services in Oxford, East Anglia, the South East, Southern and north east England. In September 2016, the Group began operating a bus contract in Singapore, on behalf of the Land Transport Authority.


The rail operation, Govia, is 65 per cent owned by Go-Ahead and 35 per cent by Keolis. It is the largest rail operation in the UK, responsible for over 30 per cent of all UK passenger rail journeys through its rail franchises: GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway) Southeastern and London Midland. 


Certain statements included in this press release contain forward-looking information concerning the Group’s strategy, operations, financial performance or condition, outlook, growth opportunities or circumstances in the sectors or markets in which the Group operates. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve uncertainty because they depend of future circumstances, and relate to events, not all of which are within the Group’s control or can be produced by the Group. Although the Group believes that the expectations reflected in such forward–looking statements are reasonable, no assurance can be given that such expectations will prove to have been correct.  Nothing in this press release should be construed as a profit forecast and no part of these results constitutes, or shall be taken to constitute, an invitation or inducement to invest in The Go-Ahead Group plc or any other entity, and must not be relied upon in any way in connection with any investment decision.  Except as required by law, the Group undertakes no obligation to update any forward looking statement.