Birkenhead MP leads call to strip Avanti of its franchise

Over thirty MPs, Members of the Welsh Senedd, and council leaders from across the North West of England and North Wales have urged the Transport Secretary to strip Avanti West Coast of its franchise agreement when it expires on 16 October.

The rail operator has been widely condemned for drastically reducing its timetable on the UK’s busiest rail route, which has led to a loss of 220,000 seats a week. After a backlash from commuters, Avanti’s managing director Phil Whittingham was forced to step down last month.

The letter said that the reduction in service had caused “chaos for passengers and businesses, and enormous damage” to local economies and called for the service to be returned to public ownership.

It also laid the blame for the reduction of services on what it described as Avanti’s failure to train and recruit new drivers, dismissing claims of unofficial strike action as having been “decisively exposed as false.”

The MPs and Senedd Members also said that the experience of recent months had exposed serious issues with rail connectivity between North Wales and North West England and called for £1 billion in additional rail investment in the cross-border region.

The letter was coordinated by Birkenhead MP Mick Whitley. Signatories include the Welsh Government Minister Lesley Griffiths, former Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, and former Mayor of Greater Manchester Tony Lloyd.

Image: CC BY-SA 4.0 G-13114

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