First to sell Manchester depot to Go-Ahead

£11.2m deal will see Go-Ahead enter Manchester for the first time

Go-Ahead is set to take over First’s Queens Road depot and operations in Manchester for a consideration of £11.2m.

The sale is due to complete in the next few months and would include the depot and the bus fleet of 163 vehicles. Once the sale has been fully completed, the employees who work for the Queens Road bus operation will transfer to the Go-Ahead Group. The deal sees Go-Ahead enter Manchester, Britain’s second-largest urban area, for the first time. In Go-Ahead Group’s control, the operation is set to be renamed Go North West. A local brand for the operation is to be chosen in collaboration with customers and stakeholders.

First Manchester will continue to operate existing local bus services from the Queens Road site until the sale is completed.

While the initial focus will be on ensuring a smooth transition to maintain services from day one of the new operation, Go-Ahead will invest in the people, vehicles and systems to improve the local bus services to customers. Buses from Queen’s Road predominantly serve destinations in central Manchester, North Manchester and Salford.

First Manchester is to continue operating from Oldham and Bolton, with sites there unaffected by the announcement.

Giles Fearnley, MD of First Bus, said: “I’d like to thank our employees for their continued hard work to deliver the best experience possible for our customers in Greater Manchester. Today’s announcement does not reflect on the effort, commitment or individual performance of our Queens Road employees and we will be supporting them fully as they transfer to their new employer. Over the years we have enjoyed a constructive relationship with both the Go-Ahead Group and Transport for Greater Manchester and look forward to working closely with them to ensure this transfer goes ahead as smoothly as possible with minimal impact for our customers.

“We continue to support the OneBus partnership in the city region and believe that a positive partnership between the Mayor; Local Authorities; businesses; the community and OneBus, can help tackle the increasing impact of congestion and deliver a package of improvements which puts customers first and offers good value for both passengers and public investment.”

David Brown, Chief Executive of Go-Ahead, said: “We look forward to contributing to Manchester’s community and transport. Buses are an essential public service that help passengers get to work, access education and healthcare, for leisure and visits to relatives. We aim to deliver a comfortable, reliable service while investing to improve air quality.

“As a business that prides itself on looking after our colleagues, we hope to reinvigorate the Queen’s Road depot. We also look forward to engaging in open conversations with TfGM, stakeholders and customers in the Manchester area to better understand how we can create a sustainable and thriving service.”


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