Avanti West Coast cuts services due to 'severe staff shortages' 

A reduced timetable will be put in place from August 14.

Avanti West Coast cuts services due to ‘severe staff shortages’ iStock

Avanti West Coast services are to be cut, with ticket sales suspended, due to “severe staff shortages”, the train operator has said.

A reduced timetable will be introduced from Sunday, August 14, with services between London Euston and Manchester appearing to be the worst affected.

There will not be any changes for services between London and Glasgow, with one train per hour on that route.

The operator said the decision to introduce the reduced timetable is due to unofficial strike action by ASLEF members, as well as increased sickness levels.

However, the RMT and other unions have strongly denied the allegations of unofficial strike action by staff.

Avanti West Coast said that the reduced timetable will ensure a “reliable service” is delivered for rail passengers.

“From August 14 until further notice, we will be introducing a reduced timetable on our services,” a spokesperson for the operator said.

“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. 

“As a result of the majority of drivers declaring themselves unavailable for overtime our customers have faced multiple short-notice cancellations on our network which has had a severe impact on their plans. 
“The reduced timetable is being introduced to ensure a reliable service is delivered so our customers can travel with greater certainty.

“This decision was not taken lightly, and we are sorry for the enormous frustration and inconvenience this will cause.”

They added: “We urge the rail unions to engage in meaningful industry reform talks around modernising working practices and developing a railway fit for the 21st century and we remain open for talks at any time.”

The RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch has written to the UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps in which he criticised the action being taken by Avanti.

He also insisted that the Government cannot “continue to take the side of corporations” against passengers and workers.

“Avanti are falsely and shamefully making allegations that this decision is due to unofficial industrial action when the reality is this decision arises from poor management, cutting staffing to the bare minimum and rock bottom staff morale,” Lynch stated in his letter to Shapps.

“The government cannot continue to take the side of corporations against passengers and workers, and I look forward to your agreement to an urgent meeting to discuss this crisis.”

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