11/12/2012 05:21 GMT | Updated 11/12/2012 05:24 GMT

Olympics Boost Helps Transport Giant Go Ahead Motor Forward

Rail and bus operator Go Ahead was helped into good growth figures by Olympics passengers, with London and the surrounding areas seeing a passenger number rise.

Total London bus revenue improved 17% including its recent acquisitions and the Olympics boost, but even when discounting the Olympic passengers, revenue increased by 14%.

David Brown, group chief executive of Go-Ahead, said in a statement on Tuesday that he expected to hit the target of bus operating profits at £100m by 2015/2016.

"Our passenger journey growth trends are sector leading and our London bus operations remain best in class," he said.

"We continue to lead the transport industry in the development of smart ticketing. There are now more than 300,000 passengers using our smartcard 'the key' and the roll out of mobile ticketing across our bus operations is progressing well."

Go Ahead's rail division, which operates Southern, including Gatwick Express, Southeastern and London Midland franchises through its 65% owned subsidiary Govia, also reported good figures, although Brown acknowledged customers on its Midlands line were hard done by this quarter as a result of operational issues and driver shortages.

"We acknowledge the impact this has had on our passengers and our priority is to ensure that a reliable passenger service is restored as quickly as possible." he said.

Southeastern saw the biggest Olympics boost, with passenger revenues up 13%, compared to the estimated 9% increase when the Olympics were taken out of the equation.

"All three rail franchises have delivered good passenger revenue growth in the year to date. We are committed to operating in the rail market and are helping to shape the future of the industry through our involvement in the government's review of rail franchising," Brown continued.

"While we remain suitably cautious about the medium term wider economic outlook, we are encouraged by our robust performance."

Passenger transport has been a tough sector for several months, as customers with pressures on their wallets cut back on any non essential travel.

There's also a lot of anger at the proposed rail fare increases across the board from January, with ticket prices soaring by as much as three times' the rate of inflation.

Nick Hood, business analyst from Company Watch, told Huff Post UK Go Ahead had put in a "creditable performance" in such difficult times.

"(But) Go Ahead must be conscious of the constraints of its financial position as it looks to deal with the challenges it will continue to face until the economy finally starts to improve. We calculate health scores based on published accounts; for Go Ahead, the overall picture comes out at a modest rating of 39 out of a possible 100, reflecting high debt levels and the legacy of substantial intangible assets from its past acquisitions."

Despite this, analysts seem to be charmed by the group - Oriel Securities, Nomura and analysts at Jefferies Group have all advised investors to buy shares in the Go Ahead in recent weeks.