Avanti West Coast boosts services after timetables cut

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Avanti West Coast train

A train operator is increasing its services after slashing its timetables last month.

Avanti West Coast reduced services between London and Manchester by a third on 14 August and suspended ticket sales due to “severe staff shortages”.

The company said it would run extra trains on its key London-Manchester and London-Birmingham routes from Tuesday.

Services would be boosted again in December once nearly 100 new drivers complete training, it added.

Avanti West Coast’s managing director Phil Whittingham stepped down amid a backlash over the timetable cuts.

The reduced services was aimed at cutting short-notice cancellations after a sharp decline in the number of drivers voluntarily working on rest days for extra pay.

The operator is one of many train operators engaged in an industrial dispute with its workers.

‘Enormous frustration’

Avanti West Coast said it carried out “intensive analysis” of the number of additional trains it can run “in a reliable and sustainable fashion” without relying on overtime working.

It expects nearly 100 new drivers will be cleared to take control of passenger services between April and December.

It will initially run an additional 10 daily trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and an extra six on Wednesdays.

An extra four daily services will operate between London Euston and Birmingham New Street on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Timetables on the remaining days will be boosted “as soon as possible” and there would be a further increase to services in December, the company said.

Avanti West Coast’s director Barry Milsom apologised “for the enormous frustration and inconvenience” of the slashed timetables.

He said the firm had been “working hard to rebuild our timetable in a resilient and sustainable way… that allows us to gradually increase services without being reliant on traincrew overtime”.

Avanti West Coast’s contract renewal comes up in October and a transport minister previously told MPs all options remained on the table, including withdrawing the contract.

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