Tony Lloyd: ‘Bring West Coast Rail under public ownership to put the travelling public first’

Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd, is calling for public ownership of Avanti West Coast ahead of a planned franchise renewal following the company’s failure to meet its commitment in running services, whilst receiving millions of pounds in performance and management fees. 

Avanti West Coast recently announced cuts to the frequency of its train services and suspended ticket sales at short notice. These cuts to services has led to a weekly loss of 220,000 seats between major towns and cities in the North West of England and North Wales, chaos for passengers and businesses and enormous damage to the regional and cross-border economies.   

Tony said, “Blaming train drivers for Avanti’s failure to meet its commitment in running services is outrageous. The responsibility lies with Avanti who have failed to honour their contractual obligation to train new drivers.

“Despite this, the government has handed out tens of millions of pounds to Avanti for performance and management fees – including a £4million bonus for ‘customer performance.’

“The company’s franchise is up for renewal on the 16th of October, and that’s why I’m calling on the government to take the franchise out of private and hands make it publicly owned and controlled.”

Avanti and the former Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, sought to blame the disruption on unofficial strike action which was exposed as false by the train drivers’ union ASLEF.