Who owns our rail companies?

Lots of our trains are government-run, just not by our government

As rail fares increase by 3.1% this new year, lots of passengers will be wanting to know who exact;u is taking their hard-earning money.

Since British Rail was privatised in the mid 1990s, passengers’ money has gone to a host of private companies – many of them owned by foreign governments.

Here’s who owns the UK’s railway companies:

  • The Dutch state– Through Abellio, it has a stake in running ScotRail, Greater Anglia, Mersey Rail and West Midland Trains.
  • The German state– Through Arriva, it has stakes in Chiltern Railways, Cross Country and the London Overground
  • The French state – Through Keolis, it has stakes in the Docklands Light Railway and all Govia franchises – Gatwick Express, London Midland, Southern, South-Eastern and Thanmeslink. Through SNCF, it also owns 55% of the Eurostar franchise.
  • The Italian state – Through Trenitalia, it runs the Essex Thameside franchise
  • The Belgian state – Owns a 5% stake in the Eurostar. France has 55% while the UK sold its stake off to private interests.
  • The Hong Kong state – Owns a 75% stake in MTR, which operates TFL Rail between London and Essex and will run trains on the new Crossrail line when it opens.
  • Serco – A huge outsourcing company which runs the Caledonian Sleepers.
  • Stagecoach – A private British company.which runs East Midlands Trains
  • First Group – A private British company which runs Great Western, TransPennine, First Hull Trains and SouthWestern
  • The British State – Took over from (Virgin and Stagecoach owned) Virgin Trains East Coast in June 2018 after the private companies realised they couldn’t make as much money as they wanted to. A so-called ‘operator of last resort’.

Joe Lo is a freelance journalist and reporter for Left Foot Forward.

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