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Author Topic: Avanti West Coast  (Read 1658 times)
a-driver
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« on: August 17, 2022, 08:48:45 pm »

A lot of talk coming out of Avanti West Coast that the company are in talks with the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) to be taken over by the Operator of Last Resort (OLR). 

Industrial relations between employees and employer are at rock bottom, services being cut, performance nose diving, standards plummeting…. seems very much like the writing is on the wall.
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Oxonhutch
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2022, 10:17:24 pm »

Doesn't surprise me at all if this is the case. Since Virgin lost the West Coast franchise, the service has gone down hill tremendously to the extent that I now choose to travel with Cross Country on my journeys up north. Virgin knew how to run a transport business; their first class was like turning left entering the aircraft and was a proper Business Class experience - sadly gone. I hope the OLR can emulate their colleagues on the East Coast route and up their game. I would love to use LNER» (London North Eastern Railway - about), but unfortunately they don't serve my required destinations (mid Lancashire) but I have looked at routes via Leeds nonetheless.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2022, 06:55:45 am »

A lot of talk coming out of Avanti West Coast that the company are in talks with the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) to be taken over by the Operator of Last Resort (OLR). 

Industrial relations between employees and employer are at rock bottom, services being cut, performance nose diving, standards plummeting…. seems very much like the writing is on the wall.

From the Daily Mail ... (here)

Quote
Trains will only operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm on both strike days and will start later than normal on the following mornings. Here is a breakdown of each operator's plan for tomorrow and Saturday:

Avanti West Coast  The operator has been running a reduced timetable since Sunday due to many drivers no longer volunteering to work on their rest days for extra pay. On strike days there will be one train per hour in both directions between London Euston and each of Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston. A limited service will operate to Glasgow. Several areas will not be served, such as Blackpool, Edinburgh, North Wales and Shrewsbury.

Reading between the lines ... one has to wonder if we're headed for an operator or last resort who might continue to run a reduced timetable on a permanent basis, with no need for drivers to ever volunteer for rest day working, or ever visit Chester, Telford or Bangor ever again.
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2022, 07:02:34 am »

…and just to add to their woes.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-62583595

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Passengers were stranded in a locked station after their train arrived 100 minutes late, an MP (Member of Parliament) has said.

About 30 passengers got off the Avanti West Coast service from London Euston to Glasgow at Oxenholme in Cumbria on Tuesday to find the station closed.

Passenger Jonathan Gilmore said it had been due in at 22:20 BST but was late. Westmorland Lib Dem MP Tim Farron said it was an "unacceptable farce".

Avanti has apologised and said it was investigating what happened.

(Continues)
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2022, 10:52:00 am »

Reading between the lines ... one has to wonder if we're headed for an operator or last resort who might continue to run a reduced timetable on a permanent basis, with no need for drivers to ever volunteer for rest day working, or ever visit Chester, Telford or Bangor ever again.

Why? We're headed (so they say) for GBR (Great British Railways), with whatever that implies for labour relations and contract terms. But before that, there are negotiations going on at the moment for a new contract (the current ERMA was extended for six months to the end of September).

So a certain amount of posturing is going on, with the current "pigs ear" performance level (and "losing the mess room") giving DfT» (Department for Transport - about) some ammunition. I suspect Avanti on their side feel particularly miffed by the forced change of their contract into EMA/ERMA/NRC/whatever, because they had more to lose than the other TOCs (Train Operating Company): viz. a longer-term arrangement that led towards running HS2 (The next High Speed line(s)) services.

OLR has been dragged into the negotiating room, and not just as a threatening presence: "do you want this menial management contract in place of your showy "partnership" agreement, or would you rather not bother" is a meaningful commercial question.
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2022, 06:54:49 am »

Reading between the lines ... one has to wonder if we're headed for an operator or last resort who might continue to run a reduced timetable on a permanent basis, with no need for drivers to ever volunteer for rest day working, or ever visit Chester, Telford or Bangor ever again.

Why? We're headed (so they say) for GBR (Great British Railways), with whatever that implies for labour relations and contract terms. But before that, there are negotiations going on at the moment for a new contract (the current ERMA was extended for six months to the end of September).

So a certain amount of posturing is going on, with the current "pigs ear" performance level (and "losing the mess room") giving DfT» (Department for Transport - about) some ammunition. I suspect Avanti on their side feel particularly miffed by the forced change of their contract into EMA/ERMA/NRC/whatever, because they had more to lose than the other TOCs (Train Operating Company): viz. a longer-term arrangement that led towards running HS2 (The next High Speed line(s)) services.

OLR has been dragged into the negotiating room, and not just as a threatening presence: "do you want this menial management contract in place of your showy "partnership" agreement, or would you rather not bother" is a meaningful commercial question.

GBR would not automatically overwrite the contract of franchised operator until the franchise end, in the lead up to GBR becoming a legal entity the DfT and the GBR development team (NR» (Network Rail - home page), TOC's DfT) are working on the new operator contracts.  There will be more 'management' type extensions to existing franchisees until GBR is established legally.

The Avanti West Coast just goes to show the flaws in the franchise system an operator has to overbid, over promise and the DfT expect an unrealistic income.

Most if not all ToC have a shortage of Drivers, even within Network Rail there are critical shortages of staff in certain areas
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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2022, 06:24:57 am »

From The Leader

Quote
LEADERS across the region are calling on the UK (United Kingdom) Rail Minister to safeguard at least one direct train per day in each direction between North Wales, Chester, and London.

Growth Track 360 is a cross-border rail campaign group made up of leaders across North Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester which calls for substantial rail investment to enable growth in the cross-border economy of the North Wales and Mersey Dee region.

Currently, only one direct service per day each way will run between London and Chester (to Wrexham) whilst a shuttle service is linking Holyhead and Crewe. Direct trains are continuing to run at reduced frequencies between London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh. 

Pessimistic view from the (only, so far) commentator

Quote
You will not get improvement , Agenda 2030 does not want you to travel , be happy you are allowed out at all .

Hmmm ... out of my area; I think of North Wales to London through services as being the vestige of Holyhead to London boat trains - indeed timing has been such that they connect with the night boat, for example.  Boat use has been made less than comfortable for foot passengers with the use of buses from the station terminal into the bowels of the ship and dodging cars to the staircases.  Seat for everyone on the bus? Not a hope!   

Something of a pattern in dumbing down service to Ireland over the years.  Don't get me going on Fishguard's through trains, connections and station at Rosslare, or getting from Dublin Port into Dublin itself and onto connections to your final destination.
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« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2022, 01:36:52 pm »

Meanwhile an unhealthy percentage of TfW trains along the North Wales coast are currently 2-car units leading to crowding and people unable to board.  Lots of new trains being tested along the route but this summer has been pretty miserable for many.
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« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2022, 06:34:49 pm »

The Managing Direct of Avanti West Coast has quit today.

I’m guessing his position had become untenable
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JayMac
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« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2022, 07:04:37 pm »

A precursor to an Operator of Last Resort takeover of the West Coast franchise perhaps?

Or maybe parachuting in someone else from First Group to attempt to sort out the problems at Avanti. *paging Mark Hopwood*  Tongue

Phil Whittingham was a twenty year Virgin veteran. Just two years with First Group and he's seemingly had enough.

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« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2022, 11:06:01 am »

From the Plymouth and Cornwall board

I would have thought TOC (Train Operating Company)'s would be recruiting staff now the pandemic is easing.
A friend of mine has been waiting just over 12 months for the final driver manager interview, but is feeling that's all been scrapped.

Presumably the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) is blocking recruitment in anticipation of a very slimmed down railway?

That might explain the Phil's resignation.  If he was told by DfT that he cannot recruit, but can't say so and he therefore follows DfT's line when they try and blame it on the unions.  Why stay and take the grief for being the DfT's instrument to preside over the dismantling of what he had helped build up over many years at Virgin?
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« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2022, 06:53:31 pm »

From the Plymouth and Cornwall board

I would have thought TOC (Train Operating Company)'s would be recruiting staff now the pandemic is easing.
A friend of mine has been waiting just over 12 months for the final driver manager interview, but is feeling that's all been scrapped.

Presumably the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) is blocking recruitment in anticipation of a very slimmed down railway?

That might explain the Phil's resignation.  If he was told by DfT that he cannot recruit, but can't say so and he therefore follows DfT's line when they try and blame it on the unions.  Why stay and take the grief for being the DfT's instrument to preside over the dismantling of what he had helped build up over many years at Virgin?


Not so much a block on recruitment the DfT will say it has to be self-funding ie for revenue or other cost savings
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ellendune
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« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2022, 08:48:55 pm »

From the Plymouth and Cornwall board

I would have thought TOC (Train Operating Company)'s would be recruiting staff now the pandemic is easing.
A friend of mine has been waiting just over 12 months for the final driver manager interview, but is feeling that's all been scrapped.

Presumably the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) is blocking recruitment in anticipation of a very slimmed down railway?

That might explain the Phil's resignation.  If he was told by DfT that he cannot recruit, but can't say so and he therefore follows DfT's line when they try and blame it on the unions.  Why stay and take the grief for being the DfT's instrument to preside over the dismantling of what he had helped build up over many years at Virgin?


Not so much a block on recruitment the DfT will say it has to be self-funding ie for revenue or other cost savings

Doesn't that mount to the same thing?
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Electric train
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« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2022, 08:26:49 am »

From the Plymouth and Cornwall board

I would have thought TOC (Train Operating Company)'s would be recruiting staff now the pandemic is easing.
A friend of mine has been waiting just over 12 months for the final driver manager interview, but is feeling that's all been scrapped.

Presumably the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) is blocking recruitment in anticipation of a very slimmed down railway?

That might explain the Phil's resignation.  If he was told by DfT that he cannot recruit, but can't say so and he therefore follows DfT's line when they try and blame it on the unions.  Why stay and take the grief for being the DfT's instrument to preside over the dismantling of what he had helped build up over many years at Virgin?


Not so much a block on recruitment the DfT will say it has to be self-funding ie for revenue or other cost savings

Doesn't that mount to the same thing?

In political terms no .................. DfT or the Minster and Secretary of State cannot be seen to involving themselves in the operation of a business 

In practical terms yes
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grahame
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« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2022, 09:11:19 am »

Not so much a block on recruitment the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) will say it has to be self-funding ie for revenue or other cost savings

I agree that the DfT will say that.  And yet I wonder if that suggests that any putting of staffing right has to be 100% commercially lead, without consideration to social or environmental issues.  If all the staff at Tidmouth (for example) were to quit, under this approach would the DfT simply allow the line to close, or at the least have a very limited service without morning departures or evening arrivals, staffed from Vicarstown?
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