>The Interesting Arms of Veolia

>Perhaps this might be of interest to someone like me who finds the various arms of corporations bizarre and slightly amusing.

I was reading the Herald Sun online (I know, but I like Jonathan Cainer), and stumbled across an article that mentioned that Connex operates the suburban rail services in Melbourne. This took me by surprise, as my memory of Connex goes back to when they were amongst the first franchise operators of suburban rail in London. (I remember their trains were awfully dirty and rickety.)

So I jumped on Wikipedia. Apparently Connex is no longer Connex, but is now (and it seems always was) branch of Veolia Environnement, which is a French multinational that started out managing water supply, and branched out into waste management (which is the only time I’ve ever seen the Veolia name and logo), “energy management” (hard to tell if they are a proper power company or something else, the name “Daklia” gives no indication), and transportation. It also got into film and television as Vivendi.

Vivendi, as some may remember, is the conglomerate that sold off Universal Studios to NBC–thus creating GE’s NBC Universal juggernaut (of which Vivendi now owns 20%).

Now things get a bit more confusing.

Lest we think that the same company which pipes the Today Show into American homes is also the garbage company, it turns out that Vivendi spun off its former core businesses into what is now Veolia back in 2000. They’d rather conquer entertainment rather than water, waste, and transport.

Back to Connex.

Veolia for some reason kept the Connex name for the Melbourne rail system, though the Brisbane and Sydney operations are now called Veolia. (Perhaps Connex has a good rep in Victoria?)

Even more of a surprise is the fact that Veolia Transport is really big in the US, with their most prominent operation being the Los Angeles Metrolink suburban rail system.*

* One of the strangest things about the present day US is that it is rare–if ever–to have a privately owned mass transit system. In fact, I have to say I was surprised to find out that there’s even a system of franchises. Since American mass transit systems tend to have “practical” names, generally involving an acronym or something with “Metro” in it, Veolia manages to be the largest privately held public transport operator on the continent without having the Veolia name on anything other than its garbage trucks.

Interestingly enough, their old (shoddy) Connex operations in and around London? They lost their franchises.

The Melbourne contract ends in November 2009.

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One comment

  1. Anonymous · March 10, 2009

    >it’s fascinating how companies grow, evolve and even die.

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