ARRIVA'S uncertain future in the Top 200 arises from its agreement to a £1.59bn takeover in April by Deutsche Bahn.
This German transport giant was founded in 1994, in succession to that country’s state rail undertaking.
The Sunderland based operator had weeks earlier considered a merger with the French national operator SNCF, whose transport group Keolis has France’s largest bus and coach operation.
Arriva, grown from Sir Tom Cowie’s motor dealing business that had featured earlier in the top companies list, will become one of many British trophies the German operator has won.
It has already this year taken over running Tyne and Wear Metro, besides the London-Birmingham Chiltern rail franchise and freight operator EWS.
Arriva, which has trebled the size of its European bus and train interests in six years, is the UK’s third largest transport group behind Stagecoach and First Group. Even so, there is no confusing who is Little and who Large in the new fast-rolling titanic act likely to emerge:
Arriva employs around 44,000 in 12 European countries, and in the UK runs two rail franchises. But Deutsche Bahn employs around 240,000 and operates in 150 countries.
Public transport operators all across Europe are doing now what Arriva did earlier, trying to build mass in a steadily deregulating European market, Deutsche Bahn especially as it plans for a stock exchange listing next year.
Three quarters of its vast workforce work in Germany and some analysts suggest it is there that jobs will be rationalised, rather than in the UK, where 150 of its 2,000 staff work at Sunderland.
If control of the new operation is centred wholly on Germany then Arriva could not be considered for next year’s Top 200, it would be a sad loss of prestige for the region. It could be avoided.