By Jonathan Davies

Bus and rail company Co-Ahead has reported a 44.5% jump in its annual profits after carrying a record number of passengers.

Go-Ahead reported profits of £91.2m, including a £12.1m gain after it closed its defined benefit pension scheme.

It was recently awarded the seven years franchise to run the Thameslink rail network through Govia, a company it co-owns.

"This was a particularly busy and exciting year for Go-Ahead in which we made excellent progress towards our strategic objectives," said group chief executive David Brown.

Share prices have grown 30% since the start of the year, and Go-Ahead said it will raise its dividends to 4.3% in a show of confidence that it will meet its targets.

Go-Ahead said winning the Thameslink rail franchise was a "key achievement" in its goals this year.

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