This comment piece first appeared on BusinessNewsWales, with Keolis CEO Alistair Gordon as guest author. 


There can be little in life as wonderful as finding a steadfast partner. That special someone who complements you, shares experiences with you and allows you to bring out the very best in one another.

Well, Keolis has over 300 such relationships – working in partnership with Passenger Transport Authorities and business partners around the world to deliver the very best services possible for passengers, communities, and their individual needs.

The ongoing pandemic has illustrated just how critical it has been to the success of our international operations to have nurtured and sustained such partnerships. It has also made us stop and think about what opportunities might be around the corner – a better balance in the way people work, live and play, a change in emphasis from the business community at large or the pursuit of a greener, more sustainable future. There’s no question that the stage is set for real, positive, meaningful change, but it will need to be achieved together, in partnership.

If it has the appetite, the mobility sector can and should be at the centre of that meaningful change.

We’ve witnessed in China, Australia and elsewhere that passenger numbers across all modes have quite quickly bounced back post Covid restrictions, often with the emphasis on less peak-centric travel and a with a better spread of users across daily services.

Our operations and their partners have benefited from knowledge sharing between colleagues in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the USA. Therefore, ensuring that where the Covid19 pandemic has meant working in new ways, we have been able to harness our shared knowledge to adapt quickly and deliver a consistent, safe and passenger focused service in a fast-moving landscape.

This has been demonstrated by the effective sharing of international data, trends, and best practice to ensure passengers across our operations in Nottingham, Manchester, Wales and Borders and the South East benefit from the very latest counter-Covid practices and procedures. This has included the swift introduction of industry leading cleaning regimes, sourcing and supporting critical suppliers in the early phases, delivering numerous new timetables in record time, flexing services for key workers, providing support to our colleagues during these unusual times and working closely with our partners in the PTAs to keep services viable.

And it’s not just in tackling Covid where partnership working has been invaluable. I am particularly proud that our businesses have not stood still over this difficult period and allowed Covid to dominate their strategic planning for the future.  Our teams across the UK continue to add long term value to the networks we operate to support our PTA partners. Whether it’s the commencement of the South Wales Metro scheme and getting new trains on the Welsh network, fantastic performance on ‘Passenger Operator of the Year’ KeolisAmey Docklands service, customer service excellence certification for our Nottingham operation or KeolisAmey Metrolink’s highly prized ISO44001 – Collaborative Business Relationships certification, for the management of their customer relationship with client Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) – there has been much for us and our partners to celebrate.



In Wales, the nature of our partnership is changing, but together we have found a way forward to ensure the continuation of what we came to Wales to deliver, demonstrating our ability to be both agile and pragmatic as a partner – supporting the needs of Transport for Wales during this difficult period and beyond. It is also clear that the progress we’ve made in Wales over the past two years has seen TfW and Welsh Government recognise the value in maintaining our expertise and guidance as partners in a joint venture going forward.

With our headquarters now rooted in Cardiff and some of Keolis’ most skilled professionals based here, there’s a real sense that this partnership, alongside some of the others we are developing with progressive projects and organisations across Wales, can help communities make greener, more sustainable and more easily accessible choices as they go about their day to day lives.

Internationally, Keolis’ commitment to the green agenda has placed us at the forefront of working with progressive local and national Governments to support the delivery of sustainable transport solutions. Across Europe we have steadily grown to operating large fleets of new electric buses in Norway, Sweden Holland and Denmark and working with the PTA in Dijon, France on an exciting new unit to produce hydrogen by electrolysis. The green agenda is an enormous focus for the future, and we are supporting our partners to achieve both local and national ambitions to make good on their environmental commitments.

The key to all these successes, and central to our working philosophy, is the need for trusted partnership.

Keolis and our operations both in the UK and internationally are home to world class engineering, customer service and operations specialists, but we must also recognise that one of our biggest strengths is the way we work with others to deliver excellence

We, like many others in the sector, are thinking ahead to ensure we play our part in the post-Covid future of public transport across the globe. This means further exploring digital, multi modal and tailored ticketing for the changing needs of our passengers and thinking about how to innovate in a much-changed future environment to make public transport meet the specific needs of local communities. But still rooted in a clear understanding that we must also see the ambition of policy makers turn into action – providing the necessary developments to deliver multi-modal and interconnected networks in the UK – with all the economic growth and environmental sustainability that comes with it.

Keolis has a long, successful track record of working with partners under various models and across the world. The pandemic has only served to reinforce the importance of these relationships and opened many eyes to the immense possibilities and advantages available to the sector when we share expertise, best practice, and seek to collaborate to deliver sustainable value for our customers.

From Lyon to Shanghai, Melbourne to Stockholm our operations are recognised as world leading across a number of modes and we will continue to work with our partners to put Wales in the best possible shape to be held in the same regard. By nurturing our relationships both in Wales and beyond we continue to recognise the tangible wins for public transport as a sector and ultimately the communities we so diligently serve.