Former Stagecoach Group Director Brian Cox, 73, has died suddenly from a heart attack.
Brian Cox, who joined Stagecoach in 1987, spearheaded the company’s move into rail with the successful bid for the initial South West Trains franchise and was Chairman and Managing Director of South West Trains from 1996 to 1998.
He became Executive Director of UK Bus in July 2000, where he led its reorganisation into 12 companies and the rebranding of the UK fleet. He retired, aged 55, in July 2002 from the post and at the same time left the board of Stagecoach Group
He was widely respected and highly regarded by all those who worked with him and was one of the key people who drove Stagecoach Group’s business as it expanded into rail, and consolidated its position in the bus industry.
On 4 February 1996, South West Trains’ first train, the 0510 Twickenham-London Waterloo became the first privatised scheduled train to operate for 48 years.
His management of South West Trains set it on a path which led to it becoming the UK’s longest continously-held franchise – having successfully rebid for the franchise on numerous occasions – until 2017.
The business, which started out requiring government subsidy was turned around to provide profits to the Treasury, while the number of weekday trains ran increased from 1,550 to 1,700 and passenger journeys rose to 235m a year
At UK Bus, the restructuring Brian Cox led laid the ground for his successor, Les Warneford, UK Bus Managing Director, who assumed overall responsibility for the UK Bus division, reporting to then Group Chief Executive Keith Cochrane.
At the time of his retirement, then Stagecoach Chairman Brian Souter said: “Stagecoach owes a lot to Brian Cox, who has made a huge contribution both at South West Trains and in heading up our UK Bus division.
“With over 30 years’ public transport experience, he is one of the few people to have worked in both buses and trains under nationalised and privatised regimes.”
Responding to the news, retired Stagecoach South MD Andrew Dyer said: “Brian Cox was a one of the bus and rail industry’s greats and was a great support to me when he was my MD at South West Trains.”
MD of the current LNER franchise, David Horne, added: “I’m very sorry to hear of Brian’s sudden passing. He was one of the people who interviewed me when I applied for a place on the Stagecoach graduate scheme in 1993, and was MD when I joined South West Trains in 1998. He was very supportive, they were good times!”
Transdev Blazefield CEO Alex Hornby said: “I still keep a copy of a presentation he gave in 2002. The main message: Don’t just talk about things (or let the public sector talk about things), get on and do it. The title was ‘Gridlock via Gablock’ and it remains inspiring and relevant to this day.”