So, where were we? Before we got diverted into considering how central and local governments have influenced the appearance of Britain’s railway network in recent years, we were looking at the visual chaos of the early privatised British railway network. It looked chaotic because, essentially, it was chaotic.
But the heady days of the early privatised railway calmed down after a few years. Like any new industry, which was essentially what the privatised railway was, a maturation process was inevitable. Most (not all, but most) of the railway ended up in the hands of the so-called ‘Big Five’, Britain’s largest bus and/or coach operators: Arriva, FirstBus, Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach.
Most had gained an initial presence in the early days of rail privatisation, but as the years went by they were able to increase that presence through further acquisitions. Some of the newly franchised train operators were management buy-outs…
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