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Strip Avanti of North Wales contract, alliance tells DfT

Deniz Huseyin
04 October 2022
 

Avanti West Coast should immediately lose its contract after ending direct rail services between North Wales and London, an alliance of business, political and public sector leaders has told the DfT.

The Growth Track 360 partnership, covering North Wales, Cheshire and Wirral, said the DfT should dismiss Avanti West Coast after the withdrawal of all direct trains in August.

There is currently just one direct service per day between London, Chester and Wrexham whilst a shuttle service links Crewe and Holyhead via Chester.

Avanti said the changes were due to industrial action, staff shortages, increased sickness levels and the majority of drivers making themselves unavailable for overtime.

In August Growth Track 360 asked the Government to press Avanti to restore - at least partially - direct services between London, Chester and North Wales, but this has not happened.

Growth Track 360 Chair, Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “We were dismayed and disappointed at the cessation of all direct intercity train services between North Wales, Chester and London with just one train per day linking Chester and Wrexham with London. 

“These cuts have caused incalculable damage to our cross-border regional economy during the peak holiday season. Avanti has shown itself right from the outset of its franchise simply not to be up to the task of managing its business affairs competently, so the UK Government - as its ultimate customer - should cancel the West Coast operating franchise immediately.”

Leader of Flintshire Council and vice chair of Growth Track 360, Cllr Ian Roberts, said:

“Civic leaders in North Wales and neighbouring communities in North West England have worked hard to build a collaborative relationship with Avanti but their management's actions show they regard our Chester and North Wales main line as an unimportant branch. It is shocking to realise that the same company has been tasked with introducing passenger train services onto HS2. 

“DfT must get a grip of the crisis at Avanti West Coast by placing its routes under the control of the public sector Operator of Last Resort, which has handled well similar failures by operators in other parts of Britain.”

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