Posted 9th December 2019 | 2 Comments

New Avanti franchise launches on West Coast

THE new Avanti West Coast franchise is being officially launched today.

A consortium of FirstGroup and Trenitalia won the West Coast Partnership contract, displacing Virgin and Stagecoach after more than 20 years on the route, and assumed responsibility at 02.00 yesterday morning.

The new operator will provide intercity services on the West Coast Main Line, and is also expected to introduce services on HS2 under a low-risk management contract in due course, assuming that the project goes ahead.

A fully liveried train bearing the franchise’s new branding is travelling from London Euston to Glasgow Central today, calling at Coventry, Birmingham International, Stafford, Preston, Crewe, Carlisle and Motherwell.

Before it leaves London the Pendolino will be named ‘Pride and Prosperity’ by Matthew Gregory of FirstGroup and and Orazio Iacono of Trenitalia, in the presence of Italian ambassador Raffaele Trombetta.

The 56 Pendolino sets will be completely refurbished, while new electric and bi-mode Intercity Expresses built by Hitachi are due to enter service in 2022, replacing the Voyagers.

Avanti is promising simplified fares, improved on-board catering and Delay Repay compensation for delays of 15 minutes or longer, in accordance with government policy for new franchises.

FirstRail managing director Steve Montgomery said: ‘We’re delighted to start serving the customers who take 40 million journeys every year on the west coast. We’ll bring families, friends, businesses and communities closer together with new trains and new destinations. We’re excited to get our plans underway and take services to the next level.’ 

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Chris Jones-Bridger, Buckley Flintshire

    After 10 years of operating the VHF timetable on the WCML Virgin have bequeathed a very stable operation to Avanti. As ever when a franchise changes hands continuity of service rests in the hands of the dedicated staff. Virgin have been rightly praised for the quality of it's recruitment and staff development policies. Having recruited the existing management team hopefully apart from a change of livery & uniforms the next few years will be ones of product evolution rather than upheaval especially if HS2 works at Euston start challenging operational flexibility.

    The introduction of the Hitachi units to replace the Voyagers promises to offer many benefits especially the elimination of diesel running under the wires. They will also offer a performance challenge when mixing tilting & non tilting units on the intensively used fast lines south of Rugby. As has been shown on ECML the availability of bi-mode units has enabled diversions to be arranged over unwired routes planned or unplanned. Over the years VT did show it was capable for arranging planned diversions utilising the flexibility of the Voyager fleet. Unfortunately, especially in the northern part of the route, bustitution has been the norm in recent years due to the penny pinching economy of failing to retain route knowledge on diversionary routes.

  • Steven Foster, Morecambe

    It is to be hoped that Avanti do not ruin the already brilliant service Virgin created.For example,I do not view their plans to create an interim class between standard and first class