Tuesday 17 May 2022


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Prism Rail

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Prism Rail
National Express Group

Prism Rail

Prism Rail plc was a public limited company incorporated in 1995 to bid for passenger rail franchises.

The company's first success was in May 1996, when it won the 15-year franchise to run LTS Rail after the contract had been offered for a second time.
It continued to bid vigorously for more franchises, and by mid-1997 was also controlling Cardiff (Cardiff Railway Company), South Wales & West and West Anglia Great Northern.
In 1997 its Chief Executive was Giles Fearnley.
However, Terry Gourvish has commented that later bids during the first generation of rail privatisation were increasingly ‘aggressive’, and he includes South Wales & West in that category. He adds: “Inside British Rail doubts were expressed as to the longer term viability of some of the franchises given the very demanding targets they had been set…” [1]

Over-confident bidding may, indeed, have destabilised Prism, and the company was bought by National Express Group in 2000. The acquisition made National Express the largest single holder of franchises for some years thereafter.

Office of Fair Trading: The completed acquisition by National Express Group Plc of Prism Rail Plc (December 2000)
[1] Gourvish, T.R.(Terry): British Rail 1994-1997, from integration to privatisation. p442. (Cambridge, 2002)

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