Infobox Company
company_name = FirstGroup plc
company_type = Public (lse|FGP)
foundation = 1995
location = Aberdeen, Scotland
key_people = Moir Lockhead
area_served = United Kingdom, Ireland,Germany, Canada and USA
industry = Public transport and Railfreight
products = First, First ScotRail, First Great Western, First Capital Connect, TransPennine Express, First Hull Trains, First Student and FirstGBRf.
revenue = £4,708m (12 months to end March 2008)
operating_income = £267.5m (12 months to end March 2008)
num_employees = 137,000 (approx)
parent =
subsid = UK Bus, UK Rail, First Student, First Transit, First Services, Greyhound USA and Greyhound Canada
Slogan = 'Transforming Travel'
homepage = []
footnotes =

FirstGroup plc (lse|FGP) is a Scottish transport company operating in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Canada, USA, and from 2009 also in Denmark, with headquarters in Aberdeen. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


FirstGroup originated from the deregulation of bus services in the United Kingdom, which allowed private companies to purchase former nationalised and municipal bus operators.

In 1989 the council owned Aberdeen city municipal bus company Grampian Regional Transport was purchased by its employees in a deal led by its then general manager [ Interview with Moir Lockhead by] , 11 April 2006] Moir Lockhead, the future FirstGroup Chief Executive. The company expanded through aquisition as the GRT Group to purchase 6 more former nationalised bus companies in England and Scotland. Elsewhere in the UK, the Badgerline Group had similarly grown through acquisitions of former nationalised bus companies in England and Wales accumulating 12 companies, from similar beginnings to GRT from privatisation of the Somerset based bus company Badgerline, sold to its management in 1986.

FirstGoup was formed initially as "FirstBus" in June 1995 through the merger of the Badgerline Group and the GRT Group, with fleets in England, Wales and Scotland. [ Fuel Cell Bus Club] ] The group began applying a standard corporate typeface to its bus company fleet names, along with a stylised "f" logo.

A new corporate white and pink livery was introduced for all new low-floor buses, nicknamed 'Barbie', now the UK bus company standard, while further bus company acquisitions continued. Inherited bus fleets were initially left in their original colours with First fleet names, with the intention that the Barbie scheme would stand for a set service quality. Laterly, older buses would receive a modified 'Barbie 2' livery, with fleets later still converted to full Barbie colours. By the late 1990s, the corporate colours of Firstbus, Stagecoach Group and Arriva were appearing in buses in all parts of the UK except London and Northern Ireland.

In 1998 the company was renamed FirstGroup when the company moved into railways with the privatisation of British Rail, gaining the Great Eastern franchise, [ [ £75m of additional passenger benefits agreed with FirstGroup] ] then purchasing Swindon based Great Western Trains, holders of the North Western and Great Western franchises. [ [ Conditions met for FirstGroup takeover of Great Western] ] Soon after, they also began operating London’s Tramlink system under franchise from London Transport. [ [ Croydon Tramlink Light Rail Network] ]

In late 2000, the FirstGroup sold its entire 26% stake in New World First Bus (NWFB), a joint venture established in 1998 to operate the Hong Kong Island routes formerly operated by China Motor Bus, to NWS Holdings Ltd, its joint venture partner.

During 2004 First were awarded the ScotRail franchise to run trains in Scotland, in which it already operated the lion’s share of bus services, and took over the new TransPennine Express franchise in partnership with French transport company Keolis. [ [ FirstGroup has ticket to Growth] ]

The First North Western franchise, however, was lost to Serco/NedRailways in December 2004. First North Western’s services in northern England were combined with those previously run by Arriva Trains Northern (and not part of the Transpennine network) to form the new Northern Rail franchise. [ [ Serco JV selected as preferred bidder for Northern Rail franchise] ]

In 2004 First also lost First Great Eastern to National Express Group who now operate it as National Express East Anglia. [ [ National Express wins UK Franchise] ] In fact, they were banned from bidding for the franchise, despite being named Train Operator of the Year at the time. [ [ Anglia wins top rail firm award] ]

From 1 April 2006 First has operated a new rail franchise under the brand First Capital Connect. This comprises the amalgamation of the existing Great Northern line of the former WAGN service and the Thameslink line. [ [ Gatwick and Luton airport rail shake-up] ]

The Great Western franchise was extended in 2006 to also include the services of the former Wessex Trains and Thames Trains, and this new franchise was again awarded to First. [ [ Wessex Train Company News] Tessa]

In February 2007 FirstGroup agreed to buy the US-based firm Laidlaw, an operator of inter-city coaches and yellow school buses across North America, for £1.9 billion (US$3.7 billion). This also gave them a controlling stake in Greyhound Lines, the largest bus operator in North America. The Greyhound name and the names of Canadian subsidiaries of Greyhound Canada were retained, and all other Laidlaw-owned services in the United States and Canada were rebranded under the First or Greyhound names, except for Voyageur Colonial and Grey Goose in Canada. [ [ FirstGroup buys Greyhound buses] BBC News, accessed 1/12/08]


FirstGroup plc is Britain's largest bus operator running more than one in five of all local bus services. A fleet of nearly 9,000 buses carries some 2.9 million passengers a day in more than 40 major towns and cities. FirstGroup also run passenger and freight rail services in the UK. Passenger rail franchises consist of First Great Western, First Capital Connect, First TransPennine Express and First ScotRail. They also operate First Hull Trains (an 80% share), a non-franchised open access intercity passenger train service and provide rail freight services through FirstGBRf. First operates the Tramlink network carrying approximately 24 million passengers a year on behalf of Transport for London, although its contract has been cancelled and will be transferred wholly to TfL. [ [ TfL announces plans to take over Tramlink services] ]

In North America, FirstGroup has several divisions: First Student which runs school bus routes; [ [ First Student] ] First Transit which holds many city and county public transport contracts; [ [ First Transit] ] and First Vehicle Services which maintains vehicles for many corporations, organisations and local governments, including the other First divisions and Greyhound lines. [ [ First Vehicle Services] ] Canadian operations are provided through their First Canada subsidiary which operates school buses and fulfils public transport contracts.

FirstGroup has always had a consistent brand and most of the names of its operations begin with the word First, such as First ScotRail, First Aberdeen, First Glasgow and First Bristol. The company has since removed all local branding for its local bus services - buses now simply carry the fleet name ‘First’ throughout the UK, although each company still operates independently. Its corporate colours are white, pink and blue, and many of its buses and trains are now liveried in these colours, except for buses and trams operating Transport for London-tendered services, and suburban rail services in Strathclyde operated on behalf of SPT, which retain those authorities' liveries - red, and carmine/cream respectively.

Similarly, in North America, all services are operated under the First or Greyhound brands except in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Manitoba. All American subsidiaries of Greyhound Lines are now operated under the Greyhound name. [ [ Greyhound] ]

First own and operate the Aircoach service in Dublin,cite web | url = | title = Aircoach | publisher = FirstGroup | accessdate = 2008-05-20] linking Dublin Airport with the Dublin southside, Greystones and Bray as well as long distance runs to Cork and Belfast. Aircoach also operate car park shuttles at Belfast and Dublin Airports. As of April 2008, Aircoach has started operating shuttle bus services for the Mater Private Hospital and Phoenix Park. Aircoach does not carry corporate branding although recently drivers have begun to receive standard FirstGroup uniforms with additional Aircoach branding.

enior management

First's senior management are as follows: [ [ FirstGroup senior management] ]
* Martin Gilbert - Non-Executive Chairman
* Moir Lockhead - Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive
* Dean Finch - Chief Operating Officer - North America
* David Leeder - Director of International Development and Marketing
* Sidney Barrie - Commercial Director and Company Secretary
* Nicholas Chevis - Finance Director
* David Dunn - Senior Independent Non-Executive Director
* James Forbes - Non-Executive Director
* Audrey Baxter - Non-Executive Director
* David Begg - Non-Executive Director
* James Forbes - Non-Executive Director
* John Sievwright - Non-Executive Director
* Martyn Williams - Non-Executive Employee Director

Current operating companies

Rail services

* First Capital Connect
* First Great Western
* First TransPennine Express (55% stake) [ FirstGroup Annual Report 2006] ]
* First ScotRail
* FirstGBRf
* First Hull Trains (80% stake)

Light rail services

*First London (operator of Tramlink)

Bus and coach services


* First Aberdeen (formerly First Grampian)
* First Berkshire & The Thames Valley (formerly First Beeline)
* First Bradford
* First Bristol (formerly First Cityline)
* First Calderdale & Huddersfield
* First Chester & The Wirral
** ChesterBus (Local services within the City of Chester)
* First Cymru
* First Devon & Cornwall (formerly First Western National)
** Truronian (sub brand of First Devon & Cornwall due to become part of First Devon & Cornwall)
* First Eastern Counties
** Ipswich Rapid Transit
* First Edinburgh (formerly First SMT, First Borders and First Midland Bluebird)
* First Essex (formerly First Eastern National)
* First Glasgow (formerly First Kelvin and First Greater Glasgow)
* First Hampshire & Dorset (formerly First Southampton, First Provincial and the Dorset operations of First Southern National)
* First Leeds
* First Leicester
* First London
* First Manchester
** First Pennine (which forms part of First Manchester)
* First Midland Red Buses Limited (sometimes referred to as First Wyvern)
* First Northampton
* First Potteries (Operating in Staffordshire and South Cheshire)
* First Somerset & Avon (formerly Badgerline and the Somerset operations of First Southern National)
* First South Yorkshire
* First York (including the York Park and Ride operated by First)


* Aircoach (Dublin)cite web | url = | title = Aircoach | publisher = FirstGroup | accessdate = 2008-05-20]


* First Transit (Bus and rapid transit in USA)
* First Student (School Bus services all over United States)
* Greyhound Lines (Intercity bus transit in the USA)
** BoltBus (a discount operator competing with Megabus, 50% with Peter Pan Bus Lines)


* First Student Canada (School and Charter Bus services across over Canada)
* Greyhound Canada (Intercity bus service in Canada)
** Grey Goose Bus Lines
** Vancouver Island Coach Lines
** Voyageur Colonial Bus Lines


* FirstGroup entered in a joint-venture bid with the Danish State Railways to become the operator of the trains on Kystbanen and over the Oresund Bridge to Malmö. They won this bid over SJ AB, Arriva, and Veolia Transportation. From January 2009, DSBFirst will be responsible for the operation of the trains going along the eastern coast of Zealand and across the belt.

Fleet numbers

In 2003 First introduced the SemaVoyager system of fleet numbering across all its fleets within the United Kingdom. Vehicles now carry five-digit fleet numbers, with the first digit denoting vehicle type, as follows:

*1xxxx: Articulated buses
*2xxxx: Coaches
*3xxxx: Double-deck buses
*4xxxx: Midibuses
*5xxxx: Minibuses
*6xxxx: Full-length single-deck buses
*9xxxx: Other Vehicles

ervices formerly operated

* First Great Eastern (until April 2004, now operated by National Express Group as National Express East Anglia - formally known as 'ONE')
* First North Western (until December 2004, services now operated by Northern Rail, TransPennine Express, Arriva Trains Wales and Virgin Trains.)


ee also

*National Rail
*Privatisation of British Rail

External links

* [ Corporate web site]
* [ FirstGroup America]
* [ FirstBus Canada]
* [ First Student (US)]
* [ First Transit (US)]
* [ Aircoach web site]
* [ York Aircoach web site]
* [ Driving Up Standards - Trade union website]

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