Glasgow-London train passengers warned of Saturday disruption

Operator says it expects a large number of cancellations on Saturday 'due to unseasonably high staff shortages'.

Avanti warns rail passengers of severe disruption on West Coast Mainline between Glasgow and London iStock

Rail passengers travelling between Glasgow and London face travel disruption on Saturday due to staff shortages.

The operator Avanti West Coast – whose reliability recently sank to an all-time low – has warned it will not have enough available workers to complete its timetable.

Avanti runs trains on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Glasgow Central, with branches to Birmingham, North Wales, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh.

An alert to passengers issued on its website stated: “Due to unseasonably high staff shortages, we are unfortunately expecting a large number of cancellations on Saturday, January 28.

“Trains are likely to be extremely busy, and passengers should check their journey online before coming to the station.”

It added: “We are sorry for the frustration and inconvenience this will cause.”

Passengers with a ticket for Saturday can travel on Sunday instead when “more services will be running”, according to the operator.

Anyone who no longer wishes to travel can claim a fee-free refund.

The lack of available staff is being caused by more people than normal taking annual leave, and training that could not be postponed, according to the PA news agency.

Furthermore, the situation has been exacerbated by strike days causing annual leave and training in recent months to be rescheduled.

Avanti – a joint venture between FirstGroup (70%) and Italian state operator Trenitalia (30%) – was given until April 1 by the Department for Transport to improve its services when it was awarded a short-term contract extension in October 2022.

Figures published this week show the company cancelled the equivalent of about one in five services during the four weeks to January 7.

The company said “performance has steadily improved” since then.

On Tuesday, rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road ordered Avanti West Coast to submit an improved recovery plan to stop releasing tickets just a few days ahead of travel.

Passengers wanting to book tickets for weekend travel this month have only been able to purchase tickets a few days in advance, leading to claims that many people are being denied cheaper tickets.

Avanti West Coast said the delay has been caused by the requirement to produce bespoke timetables – which happens in partnership with Network Rail – during engineering work.

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