Labour will consider terminating Avanti West Coast’s rail contract over ‘woeful service’

Picture: Avanti West Coast
The Government awarded Avanti a new contract of up to nine years which began in October 2023.

Labour has said it will urgently consider stripping train operator Avanti West Coast of its contract if it wins the General Election on 4 July.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said the company owned by FirstGroup and Trenitalia, has provided its customers with a "woeful service" on the West Coast Main Line.

Office of Rail and Road figures show Avanti had the third worst reliability of all operators across the UK in the year to the end of March 2024, with 6.9% of trains – the equivalent of one in 15 – cancelled.

However, the agreement can be terminated with three months’ notice at any point from October 2026.

Train operator Avanti Wect Coast is owned by FirstGroup and Trenitalia.

Asked about Labour’s plan to bring train services into public ownership, Ms Haigh said the parties' commitment is "to bring in those contracts as they expire or when they are breached.

"I anticipate I will be seeking advice early on whether Avanti has been in breach of its contract given the woeful service that it’s been providing to passengers down the West Coast Main Line."

She added: "No ifs, no buts, October 2026 will be the last date Avanti will have notice of that contract (ending) but I will ask for early advice about whether they have already breached their contract and whether it can be brought in any earlier."

Avanti operates between London Euston and Glasgow with services to Manchester, Liverpool, North Wales and Birmingham.

A spokesperson at Avanti West Coast said: "Recently we have introduced our new Evero fleet on the West Coast Main Line which has boosted capacity on the network.

"This combined with our refurbishment of our Pendolino trains, the introduction of standard premium and our Superfare ticket has significantly improved customer experience on our services."