Stagecoach to acquire First routes in Wigan

Wigan Corporation busWigan has always been out on a limb from the rest of Greater Manchester county: indeed, its municipal bus service was never part of SELNEC PTE and only joined as part of GMPTE in 1974. After deregulation and sundering, the depot found itself as part of GM Buses North, now known as First Greater Manchester. Today it was announced that Stagecoach are purchasing the Wigan depot from FirstGroup, along with 120 vehicles and staff. The transaction may be completed as early as December.

First Group have been having a rough time of late and have made little secret of their need to sell some bus operations in order to pay back debt. Wigan was mentioned as a possibility: unlike recent closures in Edinburgh and Barnstaple, the Wigan operation retains value as a business. It’s reported that the sale price will be £12 million, for an operation with revenues of £13.2 million annually returning a £1.5 million operating profit, a reasonable 11.3% margin. It’s noticeable that Wigan has had very few new vehicles in recent years, so Stagecoach will need to introduce younger vehicles soon – though thankfully they have a track record of doing just that.

For their part, it’s interesting to note that the new acquisition will be part of Stagecoach’s Manchester business—closest depot: Manchester—rather than the Lancashire operation which has a depot in neighbouring town Chorley. (In fact, the subsidiary will be the geographically inaccurate named “Greater Manchester Buses East Limited”, which Companies House shows is the renamed “A Mayne & Son Ltd” – one last hurrah for that long-lived concern.) There are very few competition concerns within Wigan borough itself, as Stagecoach currently only operate some tenders on services 113 and 516. Any bids by Arriva or South Lancs Travel would have been much more likely to be referred to the competition authorities, but the Stagecoach bid should go through unhindered.

Which routes will be transferred? We’d expect to see all routes wholly within the Wigan borough—those numbered in the 59x and 6xx series—transferred. A question mark remains over the 540 route to Bolton, and the 32/33 routes to Manchester, which could easily be transferred to other First depots – but with December only a few weeks away it shouldn’t take long until all becomes clear.

Official update page: http://www.stagecoachbus.com/wigan.aspx

[Image credit: "Wigan Corporation 140 DEK 3D" by Pimlico Badger on Flickr, via Creative Commons]

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About James McCollom

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18 Responses to Stagecoach to acquire First routes in Wigan

  1. michael Tinker says:

    the new stagecoach depot there will be known as GM buses East all R first reg buses at Bryn will be withdrawn

  2. Paul Sidorczuk says:

    Which depot currently runs the X34 Lowton/Leigh to Manchester service ?

  3. Shaun says:

    It’ll be interesting to see which routes Stagecoach get and which ones First swap to other depots (Bolton, Queens Road). Also interesting to see if Stagecoach link the Wigan services to other services e.g. Manchester, Chorley, St Helens.

    Certainly going to shake things up a bit.

  4. Tom Moore says:

    What is/was sundering?

    Be nice, although a fantasy, if StageCoach restore that hourly loop service that First used to run from Bolton to Stockport, via Bury, Rochdale and Oldham.

  5. Watcherzero says:

    Simple point, Stagecoach say their buying 120 buses of which 20 are owned by TfGM and are tendered services and 300 staff, if there is more than 120 buses at the depot that would give an indication of how many routes they are transferring to other depots.

  6. Trystan says:

    Found out from a TfGM insider that the 12, 25, 26, 32, 33, x34, 39, 540 & 582 are all staying as First and will be transferred to Bolton and Queen’s Road Depots. Handover to Stagecoach happens on 2nd December.

    • njlawley says:

      Completely wrong. Everything that is at Wigan is staying at Wigan and transferring to Stagecoach (except a couple of Salford school services). The 12/25/26, 39 and 582 wouldn’t have transferred as they are BN or QS routes. QS are keeping their share of the 33 (i.e. the Mon-Sat daytime service), WN are keeping their bit (evenings and Sundays). 32 and 540 are staying at WN. The only thing that I am not sure about is the X34… WN is keeping its share but I’m not sure about the remainder.

      • njlawley says:

        Found out what’s happening with the X34. Stagecoach will take over the WN workings, whilst the BN and QS workings will stay with First.

        That means Stagecoach will run the following journeys:
        From Leigh – 0604, 0700, 0745 (starts Lowton 0727), 0912 then hourly until 1512, 1625, 1727
        From Manchester – 0654, 0812 then hourly until 1612, 1742, 1842

        Saturdays – all xx:12 journeys

  7. Rod Harrison says:

    I doubt Stagecoach would give up 32, 33 and X34 as they will want to link with Manchester and this doesn’t agree with list of services that Stagecoach have said they are taking over. why pay £12M for a few town services and a depot and oresumbably give up only modern deckers which serve those routes. Doesn’t make sense.

  8. Shaun says:

    The 12, 25 and 582 services already operate from Bolton depot, so wouldn’t be affected by the Stagecoach takeover. The 26 has been operated from Queens Road for years, so likewise.

  9. Rail Ranger says:

    Details of the handover of First in Wigan to Stagecoach can now be found at http://www.stagecoachbus.com/wigan.aspx

  10. Watcherzero says:

    Greater Manchester Buses East Limited has been renamed Greater Manchester Buses West Limited, so at least its now geographically correct.

  11. Rael says:

    I saw a first bus liveried Wright Decker with Stagecoach fleetname on Princess street today, probably a diversion from the laptop on NY street. Strange to see…But the sooner we get First out of the county the better.

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