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Rishi Sunak has scrapped the proposal for High Speed 2 to extend to Manchester, resulting in potential service cuts for rail passengers on two major inter-city routes: London and Leeds. The train companies claim that these reductions are essential in order to enhance reliability.
Beginning on December 9th, Avanti West Coast will reduce the number of trains in its schedule for the rest of 2023 in order to provide a more dependable service for our passengers and decrease unexpected and last-minute cancellations.
The train company is dealing with various difficulties, such as outdated contracts that assume drivers will be available to work on their days off, along with problematic labor relations.
Only two trains will operate per hour on Saturdays between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly, instead of the usual three.
The train company apologizes for any inconvenience caused to their customers and assures that this is only a temporary solution.
Avanti West Coast, like other major English train companies, is currently engaged in ongoing conflicts with the two main rail unions, the RMT and Aslef, regarding wages and working conditions.
The general secretary of Aslef, Mick Whelan, who represents train drivers, expressed disappointment in Avanti West Coast for continuously disappointing both rail staff and the British public. He called their decision to reduce services over the holiday season a disgraceful present for passengers during Christmas.
From 22 December to 7 January, Avanti West Coast will eliminate all peak time limitations, allowing off-peak tickets to be valid on any train.
Starting on December 10th, the TransPennine Express line connecting Manchester and Leeds will decrease from four trains per hour in both directions to three. The fast train that runs hourly and only takes 49 minutes to travel between Manchester Victoria and Leeds will no longer be in service. The shortest trip between Liverpool and Newcastle will now take an additional 22 minutes.
In a document titled “Making Journeys Better: Our Vision for the Future,” the government-operated train company states: “Starting in mid-December of 2023, we will implement a slightly reduced schedule to enhance reliability, trust, and confidence.”
The train operator has announced that the cuts will be in effect for one year. However, they anticipate significant and dependable improvements in services starting in December 2024.
In May 2023, the government regained control of TransPennine Express. According to Transport Secretary Mark Harper, the company had a history of frequent cancellations while under FirstGroup’s ownership.
This train operator is one of 14 currently waiting to find out if the rail unions will initiate more strikes in response to ongoing disputes since June 2022. The most recent strike by Aslef members concluded on December 9th.
There will be no additional strikes before Christmas.
In the previous year, the RMT went on strike during the holiday season, specifically between December 13th and January 7th, with a total of five strikes lasting multiple days.
The source is from the website independent.co.uk.