Wed. Sep 20th, 2023
    Avanti Wins Long-Term Contract for West Coast Main Line

    Avanti, a joint-venture between First Group and TrenItalia, has been awarded a long-term contract to continue operating intercity services on the West Coast main line. Despite being ranked as the least punctual operator in the regulator’s performance report, Transport Secretary Mark Harper has declared Avanti “back on track.” The RMT union has criticized the decision, calling it a “travesty” and Avanti an “unmitigated disaster.”

    The Department for Transport defended the contract award, citing significant improvements in performance. Cancellations have been reduced, with 90% of trains running less than 15 minutes late. Avanti has also addressed staff shortages and trained additional drivers. The number of services has increased, and cancellations fell to 1.1% in July.

    Under the new contract, Avanti will operate the line for up to nine years, with the possibility of termination after three. The Department for Transport will retain revenue and cost risk. Avanti will receive a fixed annual management fee of £5.1m and performance payments up to £15.8m per year.

    Another operator, Arriva’s CrossCountry, has also received a contract extension. Despite being the second least punctual operator, the government has emphasized the importance of providing certainty and improving services in the long term.

    The RMT union and other critics argue that awarding contracts to underperforming companies like Avanti and CrossCountry is rewarding failure and exposing flaws in the current system.

    – [Source 1]