Samantha Dixon MP
Samantha Dixon MP

As delays and disruption continue and with a new round of strikes announced in April, Samantha Dixon, Member of Parliament for Chester has met with Managing Director of Avanti West Coast, Andy Mellors, and other representatives to discuss the ongoing poor services to Chester.  

This also comes as Northern mayors and council leaders on the Transport for the North board voted unanimously ask Government to strip Avanti of its West Coast Main Line route after “unacceptable” levels of service. 

Following the meeting, Samantha has written to Avanti West Coast again reflecting on her discussions with the train operator.  

In her letter Samantha stated:  

“Thank you for taking the time to meet me last week to discuss my constituents’ and my concerns about the Avanti West Coast service provision. I thought it was important for you to hear and understand the poor experiences my constituents are having with your services.  

“As discussed in the meeting, my constituents have lost trust in Avanti West Coast train services. Ongoing delays, cancellations, overcrowding and extortionate pricing have led many to turn away from using rail services all together which, I am sure you’ll agree, is not a position we want to be in. 

 “Thank you for explaining in detail the challenges you are facing with driver training, rest day agreements and ongoing industrial barriers in negotiations. These challenges are familiar to me given that they have been referred to every time the poor service from Avanti West Coast is raised since I was elected in December 2022. I would have hoped that improvements would have begun to manifest themselves by now. Given you referenced more drivers coming into service as they finish their training, alongside the new fleet of trains, I would appreciate if you would please keep me updated on progress.   

“I sincerely hope the service will improve. The current situation simply isn’t good enough and significantly hinders commuters, businesses and rail users in Chester and across the border in North Wales. It is affecting growth in our cross-border sub-region as reliable transport links are essential for any growing economy.  It seems that services to Chester are always first to be affected. Therefore, I would further welcome a commitment from you to restore the hourly direct services between Chester and London and a timeframe for their return.” 

Commenting on the meeting and recent developments, Samantha added:  

“I receive endless correspondence about the distressing and unacceptable delays and cancellations to Avanti train journeys. The current situation is simply not good enough, and to be very honest, the reasoning I was given in the latest meeting is a broken record of excuses we have heard for the past two years. Things should have improved by now, but they haven’t.  

“I am shocked the Government hasn’t acted and stripped Avanti of their contract. Instead, they keep rewarding failure. I support the recent vote by the Transport for the North board. My constituents deserve reliable and affordable train services and Avanti are not providing them. They should go.”  

Last week, when questioned in the House of Commons if the Government would listen to Northern leaders and strip Avanti of their contract, the Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP, said he had no plans to so.  

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