West Midlands Railway returns to UK ownership

West Midlands Railway will return to UK ownership and form part of a brand-new transport company, following a “complex” MBO.

The management team of Abellio UK has acquired the company from its parent firm Nederlandse Spoorwegen and has formed Transport UK Group.

The new group will now operate all of Abellio UK’s existing operations for East Midlands Railway and West Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, a 50:50 joint venture with Serco on Merseyrail and more than 60 London bus routes.

Abellio, the Dutch state-backed transport operator, won the franchise to provide rail services across the region and beyond, operated by its subsidiary WMR, in 2019.

After 20 years operating in the UK, Nederlandse Spoorwegen wants to refocus its services to and from the Netherlands.

During this time, it has operated East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, Merseyrail and West Midlands Railway and employed 15,000 staff.

The deal was led by managing director Dominic Booth, who has decades of experience running public transport services in the UK.

He said: “We are thrilled to return key public transport services back into UK ownership. While our name will change to Transport UK Group, our values remain the same. We will continue to play a key role in the country’s transport sector, ensuring the provision of our award-winning services to passengers around the UK and driving innovation to develop a low-emission UK transport network.”

RSM UK advised on the deal.

Natalie Ord, partner at RSM UK, said: “This deal brings the provision of vital services fully into UK ownership and offers a framework for continuity, certainty and confidence for all key stakeholders. Dominic and the team have a strong track record in the industry and their experience will be instrumental in their plans to drive long-term growth opportunities.

“This was a complicated cross-border transaction with many moving parts, highlighting the importance of an integrated team of specialist advisors. Abellio UK has been a valued client of RSM’s for many years and it has been fantastic to support Dominic, Ed, Alan and the team through this journey. We wish them all the best.”