A TRAIN operator has admitted to “serious errors and failures” in the way it ran the Southeastern rail franchise prior to its government takeover.

The Department for Transport (DfT) stripped Go-Ahead Group of the route after it failed to declare more than £25 million of taxpayer funding.

A Go-Ahead Group spokesman said it expects to pay a fine, although it said the full amount is unclear at this time.

“Notwithstanding the complexity of the franchise agreements relating to LSER (London and South Eastern Railway Ltd), the review has found that serious errors were made by LSER with respect to its engagement with the DfT over several years,” he said.

“In particular, the group accepts that, by failing to notify the DfT of certain overpayments or monies due to the DfT, LSER breached contractual obligations of good faith contained in the franchise agreements. Accordingly, the group has apologised to the DfT.

“The behaviours identified by the independent committee which contributed to the management of LSER’s contract with the DfT do not reflect the values and standards of conduct that the group expects of its colleagues.”

Go-Ahead said it believes it has a good corporate governance structure in place but that it will look at ways to improve it.

The company added that, as a result of the investigation, it will be delaying publication of its results until next year.

The Southeastern franchise had been owned by Govia – a joint venture between Go-Ahead Group (65 per cent) and Keolis (35 per cent) – since 2006.

Southeastern’s network is one of the busiest in Britain, stretching across south-east England, including East Sussex, London, Kent and the High Speed 1 line.

Go-Ahead Group’s chief financial officer, Elodie Brian, resigned after the decision to take over the franchise was announced in October.