Posted 24th October 2023 | 2 Comments

Avanti West Coast at centre of new cancellations storm

Some long-distance trains on the West Coast Main Line have been cancelled during the last three weeks of December. The cuts have triggered new criticism of Avanti West Coast, which almost lost its government contract after problems with performance last year.

After two six-month probationary periods the Department for Transport granted a new long-term National Rail Contract to Avanti’s owners FirstGroup and Trenitalia, which began on 15 October.

Avanti said the reductions would be temporary, and mainly affected the London-Manchester route. They are intended to reduce the likelihood of cancellations being announced at short notice.

One insider pointed out to Railnews that there would still be around 40 daily trains between London and Manchester during the week, with 31 on Saturdays. Most Sunday services are unaffected.

However, the drivers’ union ASLEF said Avanti’s explanation was ‘nonsense’, and that the operator was letting the public down over the Christmas period.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘Avanti West Coast has consistently let down rail staff and the great British public. Not employing enough drivers to deliver the services it has promised passengers – and the government has left crucial services understaffed and undervalued.’

Avanti added that it had withdrawn peak-hour restrictions from 22 December to 7 January, to spread demand.

Reader Comments:

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  • Greg T, London

    I wonder if Avanti have "friends" inside the tory party?

  • david C smith, Bletchley

    Birmingham has three different competing operators ( Avanti, Chiltern and LNW ) giving service to London, whilst Manchester has just the one , Avanti. I'd be interested to see any comparisons re. passenger satisfaction between the two routes,