Restoring trust in Avanti services

23 September 2022

“Planning to spend a week in the Lake District, along with two others travelling by train from London to Penrith. Could not travel as no trains on to Penrith on 1 October or for the return journey on 9 October. Plans have had to be cancelled as no other way to reach the area.” Cardiff to Penrith passenger 

This is just one of the many stories of disrupted journeys passengers have experienced of late travelling on Avanti. 

Last month we turned to the near 19,000 members of our Transport User Panel to better understand their experiences of travelling with Avanti and/or wanting to amend or purchase tickets. We also wanted to know what alternative travel arrangements panel members had made because Avanti’s reduced timetable simply could not fulfil their journey plans. 

Within a few days nearly 600 panel members had told us of their various experiences. You can read more about their experiences in our report here 

It’s good to see Avanti is now planning to introduce additional services across parts of the network and the ambition to restore more services from December 2022. The introduction of the train operator’s reduced timetable on 14 August was supposed to deliver certainty for passengers. Instead, for many Avanti passengers, it introduced considerable inconvenience, additional expense and dented trust in rail services.   

The primary aim of Avanti’s reduced timetable is to ensure a reliable service is delivered to passengers, so passengers can travel with greater certainty, negating the frustration and inconvenience caused by short-notice cancellations. 

It is clear from our own observations and evidence gathered from our Transport User Panel that the primary aim of ‘certainty’ and meeting the above principles was not met during the period of our survey. 

The initial analysis from the survey was shared with Avanti and the rail industry earlier in the month to help provide an evidence base for shaping many of the much-needed improvements that are referenced in the publication of Avanti’s recovery plan.   

The recovery plan is a step forward in restoring services and trust for passengers. The new plan needs to be relentlessly delivered. Those having to wait until December 2022 for improvements Avanti must keep passengers and stakeholders frequently and fully informed on progress. Transport Focus will continue to monitor and report on the delivery of Avanti’s new plan over the next weeks and months.       

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