The FTSE 250 was just above the waterline on Tuesday afternoon, standing behind a slew of green in wider European markets, as the pound rose on the back of stronger services data and oil prices weighed on the commodities-heavy index.
Wednesday's news that the East Coast rail franchise would once again fall into government hands marks the third time since privatisation that the high-speed route between London and Scotland has failed.
One of the two high-speed rail routes between London and Scotland will be renationalised for the second time in less than a decade, after franchise holder Virgin Trains East Coast said it could no longer make payments on its £3.3bn contract with the government.
Transport operator Stagecoach maintained its full year earnings per share forecasts as rail revenues grew while those in bus operations fell.
Stagecoach was under the cosh as the transport minister said late on Monday that the government could take over the company's running of the rail route between London and Edinburgh after it got its numbers wrong when bidding for the franchise.
Stronger than expected growth numbers have fuelled expectations that another rise in interest rates is on the way, with City traders now seeing a May rise from the Bank of England as an even-money bet. The economy expanded by 0.5% in the final quarter of 2017, according to official figures last week, faster than economists had forecast. - Sunday Times
Stagecoach's rail outlook has improved and so the dividend is unlikely to be cut, said JPMorgan Cazenove as it upgraded the stock to a 'neutral' rating.
Aveva: Barclays upgrades to Overweight with a target price of 2900p.
Stagecoach kept its interim dividend steady as it reporting higher profits and progress in all divisions, but finds itself in the middle of a political dispute over the government's proposed new 'vision' for British railways.
High speed train services between London and Edinburgh could be substantially crippled over the holiday season, as employees of Virgin Trains East Coast start voting on proposed strike action over a pay and conditions dispute.
Commuters are bracing for the biggest fare rise in five years, as the Rail Delivery Group confirms the annual January increase will see ticket prices rise by an average of 3.4% from 2 January.
Stagecoach Group issued a statement on Wednesday welcoming the planned "new direction" for the UK rail network, as announced by the Secretary of State for Transport.
Stagecoach Group updated the market on its current trading on Thursday, confirming its earnings expectations for the year to 28 April 2018 remained unchanged.
Ahead of Stagecoach's 28 September trading update, HSBC bumped up its recommendation for the shares from 'reduce' to 'hold', telling clients they thought it was right to exercise caution in the long-term, although in the short-term it was unlikely that further trading weakness would come through.
Stagecoach: HSBC upgrades to Hold with a target price of 160p.
Less than two weeks into its stewardship of the South West franchise, the FirstGroup-MTR consortium is facing the threat of strike action over the role of guards on its trains.
National Grid: HSBC upgrades to Buy with a target price of 1060p.
Entertainment One: Citigroup initiates at Buy with a target price of 295p.
Passenger transport operator Stagecoach released its preliminary results for the year to 29 April on Wednesday, claiming adjusted earnings per share of 24.4p - down from 27.7p year-on-year, but in line with the board's expectations.
A number of London-listed, privately held and foreign companies were celebrating early success in two rail franchise tenders on Thursday, as the Department for Transport published the shortlists for two busy routes.