UK rail operator Avanti West Coast has been awarded a new long-term contract after achieving “significant improvements” in services for passengers.
Avanti, which runs services from London’s Euston station to Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, had been plagued by operational issues last year.
The Department for Transport (DFT) had originally issued two short-term contract extensions to give Avanti a chance to improve services, which has resulted in cancellations being reduced to a rate of just 1.1 per cent in the past year.
Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “Over the past year, short-term contracts were necessary to rebuild the timetable and reduce cancellations. Now Avanti is back on track, providing long-term certainty for both the operator and passengers will best ensure that improvements continue.
“The transformation of Avanti’s performance over the past year demonstrates how, through working closely with government, setting out clear set goals and being incentivised to succeed, the private sector can deliver on our railways.”
Avanti’s new contract starts on 15 October and can run for a maximum of nine years, although it can be terminated after the first three years by the DFT.
Another UK rail operator Cross Country, owned by Arriva UK Trains, has also received a new contract to run the service for up to eight years from 15 October. This period will see the refurbishment of existing fleets and the introduction of direct daily trains services between Cardiff and Yorkshire, the North East and Edinburgh from December 2024.