From August 14 until further notice, Avanti West Coast has introduced a reduced timetable on its services.
This was in response to a series of short-notice cancellations caused by staff shortages. The temporary timetable was intended to give greater certainty to passengers, allowing them to plan journeys with more confidence.
Unfortunately, some services are still being cancelled at short notice, some passengers are experiencing crowding and there is general confusion over seat reservations and buying tickets. These need to be addressed before the situation worsens.
Ultimately, Transport Focus wants the full service restored. Until then we want Avanti to:
- deliver a punctual and reliable (reduced) timetable on a consistent and daily basis
- run more trains per hour between Manchester and London to tackle problems with crowding
- take proactive steps to alleviate crowding on services by relaxing peak restrictions and declassifying first class
- address confusing and contradictory information on timetables and ticket sales
- manage seat reservations for passengers rebooking from services taken out of the timetable and where reservations are duplicated.
Transport Focus will continue to monitor the experience of the reduced timetable and feed back where improvements can be made for passengers.
We have met Avanti, DfT and ORR to discuss issues of passenger detriment and to seek improvements. We have since written to Avanti, detailing where the passenger experience should be improved. You can read this correspondence here.
We asked our Transport User Panel about their experiences and published this report on 23 September.
If you booked before 14 August:
- if the train you were booked on is cancelled you can travel on the Avanti service before or after your original booked train
- you can claim a full, fee-free refund from wherever you bought the ticket
- if your train is still running but you no longer want to travel because your seat reservations will not be honoured, you can claim a full refund.
If you are trying to buy a ticket now:
- check the Avanti website to see whether revised timetables and fares have been released for the day you want to travel – even if you buy your tickets from other sources, we recommend that you double-check on the Avanti website first
- if tickets and trains are showing as running you can buy tickets and reserve seats
- if you have an:
- Anytime ticket – you are not tied to a particular train, even if you have seat reservations. Nor are you required to have a reservation – you can just turn up and get on any departure, though you may not get a seat.
- Off-peak – you are not tied to a particular train, even if you have seat reservations. Nor are you required to have a reservation – you can just turn up and get on any departure as long as it is an off-peak service. Again, though, you may not get a seat if you do.
- Advance ticket – you are tied to a specific train and you have no flexibility. However, until the end of September you can amend your booking fee-free as long as you do it before 6pm the day before you were due to travel. Check out the ‘book with confidence’ offer on the website you bought your ticket from to see how to do this.
- if you travel and you arrive at your destination station 15 minutes or more late you can claim compensation for the delay.