Avanti West Coast axes 20 Saturday services between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston
and live on Freeview channel 276
Train operator Avanti West Coast has announced it has cut 20 services a day on one day of the week between London and Manchester. Services will be reduced by two fifths on a Saturday between Euston and Piccadilly stations.
The operator has blamed industrial action and a shortage of train staff for the reduction in services. The reduced timetable will be in place until January 1 2024.
The Department for Transport has confirmed that the changes to the timetable have been agreed in accordance to the contract with Avanti. A DfT spokesperson said: "Despite progress since last year, Avanti still needs to further improve and we continue to hold it to account for matters within its control.
"Train crew shortages, linked to train drivers on average £60,000 salaries refusing to work overtime, highlight the need for modernisation across the wider railway that is being resisted by unions. The temporary timetable changes were necessary to minimise short-notice cancellations due to train crew shortages and to accommodate engineering works that will maintain and improve the resilience of the network."
An Avanti West Coast spokesperson added: "We have been seeing some short-notice cancellations on our network and would like to apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused. We know this is not good enough and are working hard to make sure we can minimise these cancellations."
Train drivers union ASLEF have criticised Avanti’s decision to cut train services in the lead up to Christmas. General secretary Mick Whelan described the scion as a “shameful gift to give passengers this Christmas”.
He said: “ASLEF has been warning for some time that the company has been trying to run its service on the West Coast main line on the cheap. Not employing enough drivers to deliver the services it has promised passengers – and the government – it will run has left crucial services understaffed and undervalued and it is the passengers, once again, who are going to pay the price.
“The consistent failures by Avanti West Coast mean it should be nowhere near our railway network. Instead of handing the company a bumper contract extension a few weeks ago the Tory government should have been getting a grip on the company and getting our railways back on track like the public deserve.”