Clwyd West MP, David Jones, has said that he is extremely disappointed by the Department for Transport’s decision to grant Avanti West Coast a six-month extension of its contract to operate on the West Coast Mainline.
The decision was announced to the Commons by Transport Secretary Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, who said that Avanti had made significant recent improvements, but more was expected.
David Jones said:
“I must confess that I was disappointed to hear from my right hon. Friend that he has decided to extend Avanti’s contract by six months. Avanti has been letting down the people of north Wales for far too long and I had hoped that he would be coming here to say that he was terminating that contract. It would appear that the progress Avanti has made is that it is no longer delivering a truly deplorable service and instead is delivering something rather less than a mediocre one. Will he confirm that he will expect Avanti to be delivering an excellent service by October, failing which it will be stripped of its franchise?”
Mr Harper replied:
“I think my right hon. Friend is being a little unfair in not recognising the performance improvements Avanti has made. I completely accept that its performance last summer and autumn was terrible, and I said that, but it has made significant improvements. It needs to continue those improvements, particularly in delivering reduced cancellations, improvements at weekends—its weekday services are better than its weekend ones—and improvements in how it deals with its customers. All those things absolutely need to continue happening for both him, and me, to be satisfied with Avanti.”