Friday 1 April 2011

Today's Breaking News

An fbb blog exclusive!

The onslaught of our continental cousins' contribution to UK public transport appears unstoppable.  French, German and Dutch operators have succeeded in the invasion where a little man with a loud voice and a silly moustache failed in the past.   So here follows a lovely load of logos.
Deutsche Bundesbahn (German State Railways) are the owners of Arriva, part owners of Chiltern Rail and carry a significant percentage of UK rail freight.  As a chum reported recently, "I cannot believe that German Railways now provide my daily bus between Leicester and Groby!"
Keolis, which is the French Railways (SNCF - Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français) in disguise ... involved with GoAhead's rail franchses and, in connection with First, is a partner in the Trans-Pennine service.  Then there is Abellio ...
... a trendy branding for the overseas businesses of Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the Dutch railway operator. It is now a partner in Merseyrail and Northern Trains, as well as operating buses in London!
Transdev bought Blazefield Holdings (Harrogate, Yorkshire Coastliner etc.), London Sovereign, Yellow Buses and London United (the latter two now with RATP) and holds minority interest in others. Yet Transdev is, in effect, a branch of the French Government ...
 ... via its "Caisse des Dépôts" office.  The department was originally set up in 1816 to help France recover from the economic disaster that followed the Napoleonic Wars.  It appears to be a mixture of "public-private partnership", "kick-start" investment and plain profit-seeking business.
RATP, Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (the Paris Transport Authority), has joined the ownership fray as part of "un grand transaction français".   RATP now owns London United, Yellow Buses (Bournemouth) and the Bath Bus Company.  And, finally, (for now at least) there is Veolia ... 
...its buses now globallly merged with Transdev but historically part of a huge international "public services" provider, also French.   After a period of intensive expansion in bus operation in UK, Veolia is on the back foot at the moment; having withdrawn from York and Nottingham and suffering from the wrath of the Traffic Commissioner in Wales.   It is significant that Veolia Great Britain is NOT part of the merger deal. Anyone want to buy an under-performing bus company?  Cela se vend à bas prix!*

But today, the British bus industry is expecting a dramatic announcement (due sometime before 12 noon) of the arrival on "this sceptred isle" of an Italian company.   Rumours are rife in cyberspace that a little known bus operator in Sicily is about to purchase a "well-known British bus and rail group".   The Italian company is called "Liprafolo" and may or may not be linked to Amat, the operator of local buses in Palermo.  The orange livery may be a clue?
As yet the chat rooms and user groups have been unable to reveal WHICH operator is being taken over, or, for that matter, where the billions of lire have come from to seal the deal.   Two clues may be of help.   One is a clip from an obscure Sicilian web site showing a model of a "bus inglese", tantalisingly on display in a Palermo toy shop window.
The other clue as to ownership and finance may be through a (possibly suspect) picture of the reclusive founder of the "family organisation" ...
... currently "unavailable for comment" at the company's head office.

One final snippet; "liprafolo" is, apparently, a cheeky Sicilian sprite ...
... that plays fiendish tricks on gullible folk on certain days of the year. Intriguing, eh?

Keep following this blog for news as it develops.

* Cela se vend à bas prix! = going cheap.

Next blog : due Monday April 4th 

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