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Arriva[1] is a multinational public transport company headquartered in Sunderland, United Kingdom. It is a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn.

Arriva operates bus, coach, train, tram and waterbus services in 14 countries across Europe. As at October 2013 it employed 55,900 people and operated 1.5 billion passenger journeys annually.[2]



File:Arriva North West 4205 LJ51DFK (8524986803).jpg
File:Arriva DAF SB120 Cadet 1.jpg

The company was founded by TSK Cowie in Sunderland in 1938 as a second hand motorcycle dealer trading as T Cowie Limited.[3] In 1948 the business was re-launched by Tom Cowie, the founder's son, still selling motorcycles.[4] T Cowie plc was floated in December 1964, and in 1965 it purchased the first of many car dealerships.[5]

In 1972 it formed Cowie Contract Hire which became the largest contract hire business in the United Kingdom.[4] In 1980 T Cowie made its first foray into bus operations, purchasing the Grey-Green operation in London from the George Ewer Group.[3][6]

In 1984 T Cowie plc acquired the Hanger Group which included Interleasing, a large vehicle leasing business.[4][7] Further leasing companies acquired were Marley Leasing,[8] RoyScot Drive[9] and Ringway Leasing.[6] Following the retirement of Tom Cowie the company was renamed Cowie Group plc in April 1994.[1]

As part of the privatisation of London bus services, Cowie Group purchased the Leaside Buses and South London Transport business units in September 1994 and January 1995.[10]

Cowie plc purchased United Automobile Services and British Bus in July and August 1996, both had acquired a number of privatised bus companies.[3][11] As a result of these transactions, in October 1996 Cowie Group was reclassified on the stock exchange from a motor dealer to a transport group.[12]

In November 1997 the company was rebranded as Arriva plc.[3] In that year it also bought Unibus in Denmark, its first venture outside the United Kingdom.[3]

In June 1999 Arriva sold its vehicle hire business to General Motors.[7][13] In February 2000 Arriva purchased MTL Holdings which included its first UK rail franchises, Merseyrail Electrics and Northern Spirit.[3][14] In 2002/03 Arriva sold its motor retailing businesses[15] and in February 2006 it sold its vehicle rental business to Northgate.[16] In April 2008 the LNWR train maintenance business in England was purchased.[17]

In 2010 it was reported that the government owned railway companies of France (SNCF) and Germany (Deutsche Bahn) were considering making takeover bids for the business.[18][19] SNCF subsidiary Keolis and Arriva entered discussions regarding a merger,[20] however in April 2010 Deutsche Bahn made a takeover offer for Arriva at 775 pence a share (£1.585 billion).[21][22] The takeover was approved by the European Commission in August 2010, conditional on Deutsche Bahn disposing of some Arriva services in Germany.[23] The takeover took effect on 27 August 2010[24][25] with Arriva delisted from the London Stock Exchange on 31 August 2010.[26]

In late 2011 Arriva purchased Grand Central Railway[27][28] and sold its Arriva Scotland West bus operation.[29][30] In May 2013 Arriva purchased Veolia Transport's Central European business with 3,400 vehicles.[31][32][33]

Current operationsEdit

United KingdomEdit

Bus & CoachEdit

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File:New Arriva bus in Chatham Bus Interchange (2) - - 2771819.jpg

Arriva's bus network in the UK originates from its acquisition of Grey-Green in 1980 and British Bus in August 1996.[3] It has the following operating units:


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Arriva has operated a number of rail franchises in the UK since privatisation in 1996 though its subsidiary, Arriva UK Trains. It gained its first franchises in February 2000, though both these have now been lost. Arriva UK Trains currently runs a number of train operating companies:

Arriva UK Trains wishes to expand the number of UK Rail businesses it operates by developing open access operations and successfully bidding for further Department for Transport rail franchises.[37] Alliance Rail Holdings continues to develop new open access proposals following the rejection of their initial plans by the Office of Rail Regulation in 2011.[38]

During 2011/12 Arriva's applications to bid for the InterCity West Coast, Greater Anglia, Essex Thameside and Thameslink franchises were all rejected by the Department for Transport. Following this run of failure Arriva was publicly critical of the government's prequalification process and called for it to be abolished.[37] However Arriva has since been shortlisted to for the Greater Western, Crossrail, Caledonian Sleeper and ScotRail franchises.[39]


Main article: Frasers Centrepoint Malls

South KoreaEdit

Arriva has signed up the lease to run bus routes in Seoul.

Former OperationsEdit

United KingdomEdit

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File:Arriva Buses Wales Cymru 4402 J200ABW (8699953492).jpg

Prior to being rebranded as Arriva in November 1997, the Cowie fleets generally were still trading under their pre-privatisation names with individual liveries. As part of the rebranding the operations were renamed as Arriva Derby, Arriva Fox County etc.

A uniform livery of aquamarine (pantone 321) with a cream coloured semicircle at the front with a yellow skirt and signwriting was adopted. This livery was adopted by most by Arriva's European acquisitions as well as Arriva Trains Northern and Arriva Trains Wales. The same livery was applied to the Arriva London fleet albeit with red in lieu of aquamarine to comply with a Transport for London requirement for buses to be 80% red. Latterly, London vehicles have been painted all-over red to comply with Transport for London's new requirements.

In the mid-2000s an aquamarine livery with less cream, a dark blue skirt and yellow stripe was adopted for some longer distance services in the United Kingdom. Dubbed the interurban livery, in September 2009 it was decided to adopt this livery as standard for all UK buses. Most European operations retain the old livery, although some Czech buses have also received it. In December 2008 Arriva Trains Wales unveiled a dark blue livery on its Mark 2 carriages, this has since been adopted as its standard livery.

Exceptions to standard livery include:

Arriva has introduced the Sapphire brand for its premium services in similar fashion to Stagecoach Gold with buses fitted with leather sets and WiFi.[40][41]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Companies House extract company no 347103 Arriva plc formerly Cowie Group plc formerly T Cowie plc
  2. Arriva at a glance Arriva October 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 History and growth Arriva
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Background Sir Tom Cowie
  5. Script error
  6. 6.0 6.1 How Arriva arrived in the Capital Focus Transport February 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 History Masterlease
  8. Cowie is raising £45 million for expansion Glasgow Herald 24 September 1987
  9. Henly's criticises jump in earnings at Cowie The Independent 31 July 1992
  10. The Arriva London Story Arriva London
  11. Principal bus operating subsidiaries of British Bus Competition Commission 1997
  12. All change as Cowie swaps to buses Lancashire Telegraph 8 October 1996
  13. Script error
  14. Recommended Cash Offer for MTL Services Arriva 18 February 2000
  15. Script error
  16. Script error
  17. Arriva acquires LNWR Railway Gazette 18 November 2008
  18. FTSE flat but Arriva perks up on talk French backing to bid Daily Telegraph 24 March 2010
  19. Arriva moves ahead on bid battle hopes The Guardian 24 March 2010
  20. Template:Cite press release
  21. Template:Cite press release
  22. Deutsche Bahn buys Arriva for £1.5bn Financial Times 22 April 2010
  23. DB/Arriva European Commission 11 August 2010
  24. Script error
  25. Template:Cite press release
  26. Template:Cite press release
  27. 27.0 27.1 Template:Cite press release
  28. 28.0 28.1 Arriva in Grand Central Railway takeover BBC News 4 November 2011
  29. 29.0 29.1 Arriva exits Scotland with Sale to McGill's 14 December 2011
  30. 30.0 30.1 Script error
  31. DB acquires Central European business operations from Veolia Deutsche Bahn 16 May 2013
  32. Arriva takes Veolia business 20 May 2013
  33. Arriva takes the lead in central and east Europe Passenger transport 22 May 2013
  34. SRA Announces Preferred Bidder for New Integrated Wales Franchise Strategic Rail Authority 1 August 2003
  35. Arriva welcomes new CrossCountry rail franchise award Arriva 10 July 2007
  36. Welcome to LNWR London & North Western Railway
  37. 37.0 37.1 Rail Professional interview: Bob Holland Rail Professional October 2011
  38. Alliance Rail Holdings Restates its Position on New Rail Services for the West Coast Main Line Alliance Rail Holdings 4 May 2012
  39. Bidders to oversee improvements on rail franchises announced Department for Transport 29 March 2012
  40. Sapphire investment brings sparkle to bus services Arriva 20 June 2013
  41. Arriva launches Sapphire upgrade 21 February 2013

External linksEdit

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Template:Arriva Group UK Template:Deutsche Bahn Template:Bus companies in England Template:Major UK Transport Companies

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