Transport & Logistics

Land Passenger Transport

Deals Activity: Very High

Restructuring Activity: Moderate

Uncertainty over public transport funding across the UK limits opportunities for private-sector investment.

Restructuring activity in Land Passenger Transport

Despite recent disruption to UK rail services caused by industrial action and other operational issues, the revenue risk associated with such activity is now largely passed to the taxpayer. For some operators, serial underperformance may result in loss of existing franchise contracts.

Intercity coach operators are seeing increased competition driving down fares. The Government is currently supporting bus operations and all major operators are well-capitalised.

However, pressures may emerge for local/subscale operators, particularly those operating private hires/tours, in additional to scheduled services.

Land passenger transport

During the pandemic, sector fortunes varied significantly depending on the mode of transport and location. Rail and London bus operators were relatively insulated from the downturn in passenger volumes, with the former benefitting from ‘Emergency Recovery Management Arrangements’ and the latter protected from revenue risk through TfL contracts. Conversely, regional bus operations were reliant upon piecemeal government support. Many bus and train operations outside the capital are yet to return to pre-pandemic service levels, while others are only viable with some form of public subsidy.

The UK train sector continues to await detail on how Great British Railways – the successor agency to Network Rail but with a broader operational remit – will function in practice. One change is the effective abandonment of the 'franchise' model and the arrival of more stable management contracts. It should reduce profitability among train operators while shifting the revenue risk from the private to the public sector.

The bus sector, which, outside of London, is totally unregulated in England and Wales, will need to be agile to adapt effectively to the 'new normal' commuting and usage patterns. Managing costs whilst continuing to invest in new technologies, such as hybrid, electric or hydrogen vehicles, will be critical in meeting environmental regulations.

Find Your Expert

David Pike is Interpath Lead for the Transport & Logistics sector, which includes Land Passenger Transport as one of four core segments. Peter Burnett leads our approach to Land Passenger Transport nationally for Interpath. For a full list of our senior people with experience in the sector use the button below.

Our senior team