Transport for the North Votes to Terminate Avanti West Coast Contract

The Transport for the North (TfN) Board has passed a motion to write to the Secretary of State calling for the termination of Avanti West Coast’s contract.

Northern leaders have voted to have the contract taken back into public control and for the operator to be removed from the West Coast Main Line as soon as possible.

This follows a report to the Board stating that “a continuation of the current situation is unacceptable to the North.”

Avanti West Coast service from London Euston

In response to the unreliable services offered by Avanti West Coast, the Board considered two options:

  • To set a target for improvement by June and face further measures if the target is not met; or
  • To terminate the contract immediately

The Board heard from Avanti’s MD Steve Montgomery about the operator’s performance and then opted to take immediate action.

Transport for the North will now write to the Secretary of State for Transport asserting that Avanti West Coast’s contract should be terminated. This would require the Operator of Last Resort to take on short-term responsibility for delivering long-distance services on the West Coast Main Line.

Lord McLoughlin Transport for the North Chair said:

“Today’s board was very clear. The performance on the West Coast Main Line by Avanti has been so poor, for so long that action now must be taken.

“We will be writing statutory advice today to the Secretary of State calling for Avanti to be relieved of its contract. The travelling public deserve a service they can rely on. But Avanti has fallen far too short of expectations for far too long now.”

This newly announced motion follows action taken in December, where TfN wrote to the Transport Secretary asking for a critical review into Avanti West Coast’s operation. This was due to deteriorating services, with the operator announcing a number of cuts to services over the busy Christmas period. In the letter, the Board highlighted the economic impact this had on the region.

Prior to this, Avanti West Coast was placed on short-term contracts in 2022 and 2023 in response to operational issues; however, it has since been awarded a long-term contract running until October 2026 due to service improvements.

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