Earlier this week, the Government announced that train operator Avanti West Coast has been awarded a long-term contract, following what the Department for Transport called ‘significant improvements for passengers.’
The new long-term contract starts on 15 October for a core term of three years and a maximum possible term of nine years.
In a debate in the House of Commons, Samantha Dixon MP for the City of Chester has spoken out against the latest extension to the contract.
Ms Dixon said:
“The right hon. Member for Clwyd West (Mr Jones) and I have worked for many years on the issues surrounding rail connectivity covering Chester and North Wales and, since I arrived in this House in December, I have not seen any improvement.
Referring to recent cancelations over August and September, Ms Dixon continued:
“The Minister talked about micromanaging situations, but the reality is that the Government do not seem to have understood what happened to Chester and North Wales during the summer. The decision was taken to cancel through trains, which fundamentally affected tourism and the visitor economy, not just for Chester but across North Wales.
To be honest, that smacks of gaming the figures, and my constituents and those across North Wales are absolutely staggered that this contract has been re-awarded to Avanti West Coast. I simply do not understand that something as business-critical and as important to local residents can fail to take into account the realities of travelling across Cheshire and North Wales”
Speaking after the debate Samantha Dixon said:
“We have a broken rail system and a Government that rewards failure. Everyone I speak to in Chester has a story to tell of unreliable Avanti services. For the Government not to take into consideration the reality of so many rail users across Cheshire and North Wales is baffling.
We need to fix our rail system and put passengers first by bringing the railways into public ownership”