Following continued delays, cancellations and reduced timetables over the Christmas period as well as recent leaked remarks by the managing team from Avanti West Coast, Samantha Dixon has once again written to the Managing Director of Avanti West Coast to slam the continued poor services and the affects they are having on Chester.
Samantha’s letter states:
”I am writing to you to once again express my serious concerns about the poor service to Chester provided by Avanti West Coast (AWC), in particular the erosion of direct services and the chaos we saw over the Christmas period.
“I understand services were once again reduced over the Christmas period. I was grateful to receive your letter informing me of the changes ahead of time. However, I must echo my disappointment from the summer when similar changes were made to your timetable.
“Just like the summer, the Christmas period is a key time for businesses in Chester and the surrounding area. It’s a time when Chester hopes to see an increase in tourism and leisure visits as well as constituents returning home for the festive period.
“Instead, we saw yet more delays and cancellations. My constituents are having to pay extortionate amounts to then find themselves on an overcrowded delayed service having to stand or sit on the floor. Some have reported to me feeling anxious about whether they would be able to make a connecting service and get back home safe late at night.”
Samantha continues by comparing the decline in services by comparing data from the latest Train Operating Company key statistics for 2022-23 by the Office of Rail and Road:
“According to their report only 40.8% of Avanti West Coast services were on time in 2022-23 compared with 53.0% in the previous year and 61.8% in 2020-21.
“The cancellations score between April 2022 and March 2023 was 9.1% compared with 3.9% in the previous year.
“2022-23 also saw 672,773 minutes of overall delays compared to 459,840 minutes in the previous year.
“So, despite assurances of improvements, the reality is a decline in the services provided by AWC.
“Furthermore, the disgraceful remarks by Avanti West Coast managers about receiving ‘free money’ from Government and performance related payments being ‘too good to be true’, show that even your own top team don’t think Avanti are delivering the services our constituents deserve. The fact that they think this is a joke, is a serious affront to those I represent seeking to use your services.”
Recent leaked internal presentation from an Avanti West Coast manager’s meeting described government subsidies as “free money”.
The management slides also described performance-related payments for staff as “too good to be true”.
The operator has since apologised for the ‘regrettable wording’ in the slides.
Samantha concludes her letter by requesting an urgent meeting with the Managing Director of Avanti West Coast to discuss the “serious impact the poor services are having on my constituents in Chester as well as those in the surrounding area.”
Commenting on the issues, Ms Dixon said:
“The delays and cancellations have gone on for too long. They are causing stress and chaos for my constituents and others up and down the country.
“Despite assurances of improvements, the reality is very different. I hope to meet with the Managing Director and Ministers to discuss the serious impact this is having on passengers, Chester and indeed the country”.