Prism Rail was formed in 1995 to bid for and acquire passenger rail franchises being awarded as part of the Rail Privatisation Programme. The Group was successful in acquiring four franchises:
- c2c – a commuter network between parts of Essex and London Fenchurch Street.
- Wales & West Passenger Trains – a regional railway serving Wessex, the West of England and South Wales.
- West Anglia Great Northern Railway – a network of services from Kings Cross, Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations in London to east Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, west Norfolk and north-east London.
- Cardiff Railway Company – a self-contained network serving the Cardiff region.