Transport operator Go-Ahead Group has increased profits by 44% to £91.2m, thanks to record passenger numbers across bus and rail.
The Newcastle-registered firm increased revenues to £2.7bn in a successful year which included winning the lucrative Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise through its majority-owned joint venture Govia.
Go-Ahead gained £15.1m on the closure of its defined pension scheme, which it said reduced the Group’s exposure to further increasing benefits.
Operating profit across the firm’s rail operations rose from £11.5m to £19.7m in the year ended June 28, 2014.
Rail passenger revenue growth was greatest across its London Midland and Southern routes.
Operating profit across Go-Ahead’s bus operations increased from £75.2m to £83.5m on a like-for-like basis, adjusted to account for the impact of the Olympic Games.
Margins within the bus business increased from 9.9% to 10.4%.
David Brown, Group chief executive, said: “This was a particularly busy and exciting year for Go-Ahead in which we made excellent progress towards our strategic objectives.
“The end of the year marked the halfway point towards our bus operating profit target. We made steady progress towards our target in the year, and remain confident in our ability to achieve £100m of bus operating profit by 2015/16.
“The Group is in a very good financial position, with strong cash management allowing us to increase investment while reducing our net debt during the year. Our robust balance sheet supports our progressive dividend policy and allows us flexibility to pursue value adding opportunities.
“The Board’s confidence in the Group’s performance and prospects has allowed us to propose a full year dividend of 84.5p, an increase of 4.3%, in line with our policy.”