The fortunes of Brian Souter’s firm seem to have closely followed those of privatised public transport in the UK

It is testament to their dwindling empires that the proposed merger of Stagecoach and National Express, the UK’s biggest rail and bus operators not so long ago, will not unduly trouble the competition authority.

Stagecoach, which a decade back looked to swallow up National Express, now is set to be subsumed by its rival. The turnaround in its fortunes has been influenced by foreign ventures, and the pandemic has magnified all of its problems. But the firm’s journey has notably followed the arc of privatised public transport in Britain.

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