Stagecoach reportedly to hand over Metrolink operation to French firm RATP

The Manchester Evening News reports today that a “secret deal” has been struck to hand operation of Greater Manchester’s Metrolink tram network from Stagecoach to French transport group RATP.

Stagecoach has run the network since 2007 and still has six years left on its contract. However, the MEN says that the company wants to ‘pull the plug’ on its deal early, and will officially announce the move on Tuesday. Neither TfGM or Stagecoach have commented on the supposed deal, although council leaders were reportedly briefed on the plans yesterday. 

RATP operates a range of transport networks around the world, including the Paris Metro, the Fullington Auto Bus Company in the USA and the London United bus company in the British capital.

Given that the Metrolink is reportedly profitable, it seems strange that Stagecoach would bail so early into its contract. We await Tuesday with interest to see if the reports bear fruit.

UPDATE Tuesday 2 August 2011: An official announcement confirmed the news this morning, but didn’t give much away:

Stagecoach Group plc (“Stagecoach”) yesterday completed the sale of its subsidiary, Stagecoach Metrolink Limited (“SML”), to Ratp Dev UK Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ratp Développement.

SML operates and maintains the Manchester Metrolink tram network under a ten-year contract with Transport for Greater Manchester (formerly, Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive) through to July 2017.  The gross assets of SML as at 30 April 2011 were £16.2m.

The sale relates only to SML.  The sale does not include the Group’s Sheffield tram operations, and the Group is not engaged in any discussions regarding a sale of the Sheffield tram operations.

The comments to this post discuss the news further.

[Image credit: Ingy The Wingy]

About Martin Bryant

Digital content person about town.
This entry was posted in Trams. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Stagecoach reportedly to hand over Metrolink operation to French firm RATP

  1. Rob says:

    RATP own Bournemouth Yellow Buses – a good colour fit if nothing else. Seriously though, they have a decent record in running the Paris Metro and I expect have a lot of useful expertise…

  2. James McCollom says:

    It wouldn’t be the first time Stagecoach has sold a profit-making business – compare with London, sold in 2006 as there wasn’t enough entrepreneurial freedom in the London bus tendering regime.

  3. The colour change was obviously an inticer! Kanny Scots!

  4. Tyskieman says:

    You may have hit the nail on the head there, with the lack of ‘entrepreneurial freedom.’

    I’m sure if Stagecoach could have their say on ticketing, Metrolink would fully paticipate in System One (even before 0930 on weekdays), which TfGM aren’t prepared to do, despite continually making claims that they want a fully integrated ticketing scheme!

  5. Trystan says:

    Tyskieman, well said. I wasn’t aware that you coudln’t purchase a system one met/bus ticket before 0930 and was astonished when I decided to leave my car at home and use the bus and met to get to where I needed to go south side of the city from the north. Suffice to say after having to pay nearly £10 for 2 bus and met trips next time I’ll drive!!! Why is it that one cannot purchase a return bus ticket these days? Why are we all forced to buy day savers when I will only be using the bus at least twice. It’s an absolute rip off.

    • Tyskieman says:

      There’s also no reference (as far as I can see) to System One Bus & Tram tickets anywhere on the Metrolink website, itself part of the TfGM site.

  6. Shaun says:

    I think the reason that returns have been ditched by bus companies is so people buy the day ticket, therefore getting more money, while claiming it gives you the opportunity to travel as much as you want for the day. I think a return (2 single effectively) into Oldham on the 180/184 now is about 20-40p less than a FirstDay ticket, for a journey that takes about 10 minutes and by the time you wait for a bus to turn up, it’s almost as quick to walk it.

    It would be good if there were peak-time day tickets for bus/tram, and the train/tram, bus/train etc instead of having a bus only peak-time ticket, as it would be more appealing to people to choose public transport into work but have to use more than one mode of transport. Also would be good to have a bus/tram weekly ticket. The closest to that at the moment is the Buscard Extra 7 or 28 add-on, where you pay an additonal £7.40 for a week or £29.60 for a month on top of your System One weekly/monthly bus pass to travel on trains or trams.

    As for Stagecoach pulling out, it does seem strange to pull out just weeks after a new line opening and two more to open in the next six months. They’ve been running the Supertram in Sheffield for many years now, so, it may be possible, as speculated that they’ve had enough of trying to run Metrolink with their hands tied and want to jump ship 2/5th of the way into the deal (even though the other 3/5ths is the more exciting part for Metrolink). Hopefully, we’ll get some answers when the announcement is made.

    • Andrew says:

      Shaun, the Buscard Extra is a good value bus add-on to a Metrolink or rail season ticket.

    • Tyskieman says:

      I suspect returns aren’t often available because single tickets are generally quite high (particularly for short journeys) where as day tickets are (comparatively) quite cheap and therefore a day ticket effectively acts as a return ticket.

      • Trystan says:

        I find £4.20 (First – you have no other choice – Day) expensive when I only want to travel an 8 mile round trip. I seriously could drive for cheaper, and I am an advocate of using public transport. I just find it is now getting extrememly expensive for short journeys. Now £4.20 from Wigan to Mancheser and back on the bus is excellent value. Years ago First operated a zonal system for Day tickets, which worked out fairer.

  7. James McCollom says:

    The official Stock Market announcement is a little dry. More amusingly, TfGM claims that “passengers [are] to benefit from new Metrolink operator” – my guess is that most will be oblivious!

    • Shaun says:

      Chances are that the majority of people won’t even notice there’s been a change of operator. Some people probably weren’t aware that Stagecoach were running it beforehand.

      Here’s a quote from RATP Dev UK CEO Paul Matthews:

      “Metrolink is one of the UK’s most successful tram networks, so we are naturally delighted to join with the existing team to be able to bring our expertise and know-how to continue its further development. Metrolink is now embarking upon a significant phase of expansion which presents us with plenty of opportunities to assist in producing a world class tramway of which the City can be rightfully proud”

      • Shaun says:

        By the way, note the spelling error of their document ‘Metolink’ ^^

      • Paul Sidorczuk says:

        I have just looked at the RAPT GROUP press release dated 2nd August 2011 and any reference to “Metolink” now appears to have been corrected to read “Metrolink” in that published document.

  8. Watcherzero says:

    The company already has a Metrolink webpage up, and Metrolink appears in slideshows on their website.

  9. DuPuis says:

    Martin, great post. See mine here:
    Total coincidence that we used the same Flickr photo, I swear. Great minds think alike …

  10. Paul Sidorczuk says:

    Who actually decides the design of the Metrolink trams and why do both types of tram so far look far less streamlined in their front ends, than some others running in other world cities?

    Is it an attempt to portray a “Gritty Northern Image!” ?

  11. Watcherzero says:

    Streamlining actually has a pretty meaningless effect in speeds below 70mph ballpark, such that in the second world war they removed the streamlining from locomotives because they ran faster with the lower weight and it improved maintence access.

    The flat front on the other hand makes it a lot easier for a driver who may have to navigate through crowds of pedestrians to avoid hitting them.

    • Paul Sidorczuk says:

      Aesthetically speaking, one could use your reasoning to justify the front-end look of the Class 142 Pacer units, but I was not discussing streamlining on locomotives in the middle years of the last century nor of recent times, but I was wanting to make the point of trams looking attractive to give a modern look to a modern tramway system..

      Why should other tramway systems be able to have attractive front-end designs which do not seem to pose driver-problems of the type you have described.

      • Watcherzero says:

        What? Like a Citadis?

        Or a Flexity Outlook?

        Truth is while some have more sloped windscreens than the Flexity Swifts the vast majority of modern trams have flat ends with slightly tapering windscreens.

  12. Thanks for any other excellent post. Where else could anyone get that kind of info in such an ideal means of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I am on the search for such info.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s