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Industry Rail, road, public transport
Area served Public transportation:
France, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, India, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, UK, USA, Sweden
Key people President and Group CEO: Jean-Pierre Farandou
Group Executive Vice President and CFO: Michel Lamboley
CEO International: Bernard Tabary
CEO France: Patrick Jeantet[1]
Revenue €4.9 billion (2012)[2]
Employees 52,600[2]
Parent SNCF

Keolis is the largest private sector French transport group. It runs passenger railways, tramways, bus networks, funiculars, trolley buses, and airport services. The company, based in Paris, is majority owned by SNCF, the French state rail operator.[3] Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec also hold ownership shares. Its turnover (revenue) reached €4,1b[2] in 2007. Keolis has over 52,600 staff in France, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, India, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, UK, USA and Sweden. It is the largest provider of public-transportation services in France.

Keolis designs transportation systems jointly with local governments and claims to strive to provide public transport that allies a spirit of service with innovation and efficiency.


In eastern Canada Keolis is involved in the operation of two intercity bus companies; Orléans Express and Acadian Lines. Keolis is also the operator of Lyon's public transit system.

In 2008 it was announced that the company was shortlisted in joint ventures bidding for the rights to operate the tram network[4][dead link] and the suburban train network[4][dead link] in Melbourne, Australia. Keolis won the tram contract but not the train operation.

UK operations[edit]

In the UK, Keolis is a minority partner in the Govia rail operating company with Go-Ahead Group. Govia currently operates the Southern, Southeastern and London Midland franchises. Keolis itself also operates the Transpennine Express rail franchise in partnership with First Group.

Keolis lost out to FirstGroup (UK's largest bus and rail company) for the UK's Intercity West Coast rail franchise [5] however FirstGroup's bid was later overturned after Virgin Trains, the incumbent identified major failings in the bidding and selection process.

Keolis is preferred bidder for the Nottingham Express Transit Tram Operation in Nottingham, UK as part of a consortium with the Wellglade Group.

United States operations[edit]

On October 16, 2009, the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Operations Board approved an $85 million contract with Keolis Rail Services America to operate and maintain VRE trains for five years.[6] Keolis began operating VRE on July 12, 2010 after a two-week delay, ending Amtrak's 18 year tenure as operator.[7] Both Amtrak and Keolis had staffed the VRE lines with about 80 employees.[6][7] However, during the bidding, a group of Holocaust survivors and Maryland politician Heather Mizeur called for investigations into SNCF's role in transportation of Nazi prisoners to concentration camps during World War II before the Keolis contracts could move forward.[3] The operator of the train line, Amtrak, also challenged the propriety of hiring a foreign company.[7]

Keolis has also bid to run some California commuter rail segments and two MARC lines in Maryland, even though with the latter, the company is running into similar issues with the VRE bidding. Another group of Holocaust survivors, led this time by Leo Bretholz also requested investigations of SNCF's involvement in the war.[8] As a result a law was passed to enforce this, leading to major criticism because SNCF had already documented their role in the deportation and had in fact released their archives for research and educational purposes in 1996.[9] Eventually however, Keolis would lose to Canadian company Bombardier Transportation.[10]

On November 29, 2011, Keolis Transit America, Keolis's US subsidiary, announced the acquisition of Tectrans Inc., a California-based privately held provider of contract transportation services. Tectrans holdings included in the acquisition included Mobility Plus Transportation, Western Transit Systems, and Diversified Transportation.[11]

In August 2012, Keolis Commuter Services was one of two companies, Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company (MBCR) and Keolis Commuter Services (KCS),[12] to bid on a commuter rail contract for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston, Massachusetts. The contract was to operate 664 miles of passenger service.[13][14] On January 8, 2014 it was released by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority that Keolis had won the contract for $2.68 billion over eight years, with the possibility for two two-year extensions that could bring the total price to $4.3 billion.[15]

Keolis figures[edit]

  • 2.2 billion passengers annually
  • 23,600 buses and coaches
  • 4,875 rail km


  1. ^ Keolis - organisation
  2. ^ a b c Keolis - key figures
  3. ^ a b Shaver, Katherine (July 7, 2010). "Holocaust group faults VRE contract". The Washington Post. ISSN 0740-5421. 
  4. ^ a b "SHORTLIST TO RUN MELBOURNE’S TRAMS ANNOUNCED". Media Release: Premier of Victoria. August 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-08. "On 25 June 2009, the Victorian government announced that Keolis would run Melbourne's tram network for eight years replacing Yarra Trams." 
  5. ^ "New West Coast rail franchise delayed". Reuters. May 19, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Buske, Jennifer (November 6, 2009). "VRE plan to oust Amtrak up for vote". The Washington Post. 
  7. ^ a b c Buske, Jennifer (July 10, 2010). "Amtrak ends role as VRE operator; Keolis to start Monday". The Washington Post. 
  8. ^ Holocaust Survivor: Don't Let Train Co. Operate MARC Rails
  9. ^ Lind, Michael (June 5, 2011). The Washington Post. No way to run a railroad".
  10. ^ Shaver, Katherine (17 October 2012). "New company to operate some MARC trains". Washington Post. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  11. ^ Keolis Transit America (November 29, 2011). "Keolis expands into the transit market in the United States", Keolis Press Release.
  12. ^ Technically, KCS is a joint venture between Keolis Rail Services America and the SNCF, the French National Railway.
  13. ^ Metzger, Andy, "State House News -- Only two companies vie for commuter rail contract", State House News Service, Aug 06, 2012
  14. ^ "Two transit giants seek MBTA commuter rail deal", Gloucester Daily Times, Gloucester, Massachusetts, September 17, 2012
  15. ^ Powers, Martine (2014-01-08). "French firm Keolis wins commuter rail contract - Massachusetts news". Retrieved 2014-01-12. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°52′15″N 2°19′41″E / 48.87083°N 2.32806°E / 48.87083; 2.32806