Llandudno Lord demands Avanti restores route from Holyhead to Euston

PRESSURE is building on the Government and Avanti West Coast trains to re-instate regular through trains from Holyhead to London. 

With an update to train schedules expected on December 11, Lord Roger Roberts, Liberal Democrat Peer, has penned a letter to Avanti West Coast and Charlotte Vere, Baroness Vere of Norbiton.

Lord Roberts, of Llandudno, wrote: “I am writing to raise the case of the through line from Holyhead to Euston after an unsatisfactory answer from Department for Transport in the Chamber last week. I am asking, ahead of the December 11 decision date, for many more trains to be run on the Holyhead to Euston line. North Walians cannot continue to suffer through the isolation imposed upon them by the lack of public transport to the London.

“I am concerned not only with the plight of those in North Wales, but also those reaching the UK on ferries from Ireland.

“Those coming from Ireland for UK destinations almost invariably have to change trains in Chester or Crewe. Any revised timetable would need to both link with ferry times and provide a route without changes.

“With just 26 days until the latest changes to timetables are announced, I would urge you to offer this vital service to the people of North Wales. Please instate a regular through train to London from Holyhead before 2023.”

Train reliability in Britain has reached the worst level on record after another month of disruption.

The industry’s cancellations score during the 12 months to October 15 was 3.8 per cent, according to Office of Rail and Road data.

Avanti West Coast has been ranked the worst individual operator for the 12 months to October 15.

Lord Roberts added: “It is time the Government and Avanti recognised their responsibility to keep North Wales connected to the rest of the UK.

“Good transport links are vital for North Wales’ economy to thrive. Businesses and commuters alike are desperate for faster links to London. They cannot afford to wait any longer. Avanti must include regular through trains to London in their updated schedules in December.”

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “We know we’re not delivering the service our customers in North Wales rightly expect and we apologise for the enormous frustration and inconvenience caused. Resolving this situation requires a robust plan that will allow us to gradually increase services without being reliant on traincrew overtime, which fell dramatically in July.

“In December, we will introduce a significant increase in our timetable, one that will not be dependent on overtime.

“All our main routes will have more services than they had in May, including more direct services from Holyhead to London.”

Last week, Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie confirmed rail minister Huw Merriman is to meet with Avanti West Coast train drivers in Holyhead.

Presently there is only one direct service from London to the island each day due to a driver shortage. Many drivers are not undertaking overtime to fill the gaps. 

Ms Crosbie, who requested the meeting, told MPs: “I need the Minister’s help. Businesses and people across Anglesey need a reliable and frequent train service to Holyhead. 

“Avanti West Coast has a woeful track record and reputation in North Wales, bringing misery on a daily basis to thousands of people trying to get to work or school, or simply trying to live their lives. 

“Like many others, I was shocked when, at the beginning of October, the UK Government awarded First Trenitalia West Coast Rail Ltd a short extension to its current contract to continue to operate the Avanti West Coast contract until April 1 2023. That was incredibly disappointing for me, my colleagues and my constituents, who have suffered train services that are well below par for the past two and a half years. 

“Avanti West Coast has committed to delivering around 90 per cent of its pre-pandemic timetable from December 11, with five direct trains a day from London to Holyhead and four at weekends. I have no faith that Avanti will be able to deliver that timetable.”

Avanti will be approached for comment. 

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno