Christmas festivities likely to be disrupted as Avanti West Coast makes cuts to their winter services

Commuters have reacted to Avanti West Coast cutting up to 40% of its Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston services in December, as reduced Saturday timetables are already taking effect.

The train operator owned by First Group runs around 50 services a day on the West Coast mainline, however these will be cut to just 30 trains each day from December 9th.

But services on Saturdays from this week onwards are already being disrupted, with disruption likely to continue on Sundays as timetables change back again.

Both sets of disruption will combine to reduce Avanti’s services by 40%, which is likely to be in effect till the end of the year.

Commuters on this morning’s services gave their thoughts ahead of the reduction in trains this winter.

Koran, 50, said: “I use the train every week for business and I know it has also affected me for football fixtures because I can’t get back from a game watching Man City at Chelsea.

“Not only has it affected my work life but it affects my personal life as well.”

Elizabeth, 72, said: “These are really popular rail routes and to cut them would lose custom, people would find other ways of going to London.”

Christie, 55, was on her way to visit her son in London, she said: “I’ve got this one coming but I’m coming back on the east coast, because the east coast is more reliable than the Avanti west unfortunately.

“I used to always go this way but this is the first time I’ve done it since last July, because last July was an absolute bloody nightmare – every time I came trains were cancelled.”

Olivia, 18, a student from Essex said: “It’s a bit unfair because I think Manchester has a very heavy student population and as a student myself I think they’re not always taking into account students, they’re thinking more for their profits and not for people like students.”

Christian, 45, uses the Avanti trains a few times a month, he said: “I think it depends what the consequences and the benefits are, if the benefit is a vastly improved service then I can probably live with that.”

“In terms of commuting in the week for work, I don’t think the service that Avanti provide is great and I was shocked that they had the renewal of their contract.

“Once you’ve got a service and a provision that meets your customers needs, your staff are happy and the customers are happy then I think you can probably add services back in.”

Whether going from Manchester to London for business, as part of travel or to get home, the Avanti West Coast trains provide integral services for those from the north west – reductions in their timetable will undoubtedly have an effect on commuters.

In a statement to London World, a DfT spokesperson said: “The temporary timetable changes were necessary to minimise short-notice cancellations due to train crew shortages and to accommodate engineering works that will maintain and improve the resilience of the network.”

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson also said:  “We have been seeing some short-notice cancellations on our network and would like to apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused. We know this is not good enough and are working hard to make sure we can minimise these cancellations.”

In context of the strike action throughout last year’s winter and with ASLEF and the RMT able to strike with only 14 days notice, Avanti’s cuts to services may help form part of yet another tough winter for commuters.

Feature image: William Comish

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