With Chris Gralying’s slap down still smarting, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has attempted to relaunch his attack on Southern Trains by seizing on the £157.4m profits announced by part-owners the Go-Ahead Group.
In a statement he said:
“Long suffering commuters across South London will be shocked to hear that Go-Ahead has announced soaring profits, less than 24 hours after Chris Grayling announced a £20 million taxpayers handout to prop up the franchise.
“The reaction to the cancellations, delays and poor service from both Southern and the Government has been wholly inadequate.
“Commuters will not understand why the Government rejected my offer to send a specialist TfL team in to Southern to sort this mess out for free and instead has rewarded a failing franchise with more money and more time.
“In addition to sorting out the mess, the Government should speed up handing over the commuter lines to TfL to ensure we give commuters the efficient and reliable rail service they deserve, while providing value for money.”
Alas for Sadiq, the firm’s profits are not generated by the GTR joint-venture which operates Southern.
A quick glance at Go-Ahead’s accounts shows that the majority of profit comes from the group’s bus operations – adjusted operating profit for rail services was £57.0m while the bus side of the business generated £100.4m.
Of the rail profit precisely zero was generated by GTR.
That entity made a loss in 2015, broke even last year and is expected to break even again this year.
Had Team Khan bothered to check the firm’s financials and accompanying presentation they’d have known this because page 17 clearly states:
“Overall a good financial result in the year, despite no contribution from GTR”
“No contribution” is posh accountant-speak for ‘we’re making no money from this’.
Embarrassingly for the Mayor he is one of, if not the, biggest contributors to the very profits he’s attacking – Go-Ahead’s London bus operations, which they run on behalf of Transport for London, generated almost half (£47.1m, up 6.3%) of all bus operating profits.
Empty posturing and research-lite press releases may be fine for an election campaign but if you mistake them for governing you just end up looking pretty silly.