North Wales Conservative MPs Simon Baynes (Clwyd South), Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn), James Davies (Vale of Clwyd), David Jones (Clwyd West) and Robin Millar (Aberconwy) have called for troubled train company Avanti to lose its franchise to operate services on the West Coast Main Line, which includes North Wales.
The franchise is due to expire on 16th October and Avanti has indicated that it wishes to continue to operate the services.
In their letter to the Rail Minister, Kevin Foster, the MPs say:
“We are sure that you will be aware of the deplorable performance of Avanti across the franchise over many months. Nowhere has its performance been more lamentable than in North Wales. At present, there is only one through train per day between Holyhead (the principal ferry port to Ireland) and London. Travellers across the North Wales mainline are obliged to change trains at least once, and frequently twice. In short, the mainline has now been reduced to the status of a branch line, to the enormous inconvenience of North Wales passengers.
“You will of course be aware that Avanti has pursued a business model of relying heavily on drivers to undertake overtime work as a matter of course. The short sightedness of such a policy is manifest in the dreadful service that passengers are now having to endure, despite the best efforts of Avanti train staff, who are undoubtedly as dispirited by the company’s performance as everyone else.
“We have heard today from Avanti that they intend substantially to restore the service to acceptable levels from 11th December 2022. However, we feel bound to observe that, given our experience of the company, we have no confidence whatever that they will do so or that any improvement they do achieve will be permanent.
“The service provided by Avanti contrasts markedly with that provided by its predecessor, Virgin Trains. We therefore see no reason why an acceptable service cannot be provided on the West Coast mainline by a competent operator.
“We accordingly urge you not to renew Avanti’s franchise on 16th October, but rather seek another operator more able to provide the level of service that our constituents demand and are entitled to expect.”