Posted: Tue 9th Aug 2022

Drivers union chief slams ‘lying’ train operator after slashing Chester to London services by 80%

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Aug 9th, 2022

The leader of a train drivers union has slammed Avanti West Coast for “lying to passengers” about the reasons it is unable to run the services it has promised to deliver. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

From next week and “until further notice” Avanti West Coast will be introducing a reduced timetable for its services which includes slashing the number of daily trains running between Chester to London to just one. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Normally the train operator runs five services from Chester to London Euston and five from London to Chester. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Avanti West Coast said in a statement on its website: “This is due to the current industrial relations climate which has resulted in severe staff shortages in some grades through increased sickness levels, as well as unofficial strike action by ASLEF members.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The operator said that the majority of its drivers have declared themselves unavailable for overtime, “our customers have faced multiple short-notice cancellations on our network which has had a severe impact on their plans.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Avanti West Coast said the reduced timetable is being introduced to “ensure a reliable service is delivered so our customers can travel with greater certainty.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, has hit back at the train operator saying: “We are on strike at Avanti West Coast on Saturday (13 August).” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“That is official industrial action after an overwhelming mandate from members fed up with an intransigent chief executive who refuses to give drivers an increase in line with inflation for a third successive year. The company wants its drivers to carry on working with a real terms pay cut.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Whelan said: “There is – and has been – no unofficial action on Avanti West Coast this week.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The truth is that the company does not employ enough drivers to deliver the services it has promised passengers it will run.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“In fact, the company itself has admitted that 400 trains a week are dependent on drivers working their rest days (that is, working overtime on their days off).” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The union leader said: “Avanti was already running a truncated timetable. Now it has doubled down by cutting even more services. It would have no need to do this if it had enough drivers! ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The company should stop lying and start recruiting. Then it will be able to deliver the services it has promised passengers it will run. At the moment the company is lying to passengers, and lying to staff. It needs to do better.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Whelan added: “If one of our members is verbally abused, or physically attacked, because of the company’s lies, we will hold the company to account.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Avanti said it plans to run four trains an hour from London Euston, one to each of Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

There will be a shuttle service between Crewe and Holyhead, plus a limited through service between Euston and Chester of one a day. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“This amended timetable will be in place until further notice, and we will continue to monitor and review the situation,” Avanti said. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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