Avanti to add nearly 100 stops per week at Motherwell

Avanti West Coast is set to transform rail services at Motherwell, following approval of plans for a major timetable boost on its Anglo-Scottish route.

Avanti West Coast is set to transform rail services at Motherwell, following approval of plans for a major timetable boost on its Anglo-Scottish route.

The change in Avanti West Coast’s timetable will see the cross-border operator serve Motherwell with an additional 96 services per week – the most significant increase in cross-border rail services for the Scottish town in decades.

Approval of the timetable changes means Avanti West Coast has the capacity to more than double the number of weekday services calling at Motherwell from eight to 20. Weekend services will also be bolstered – with more than six times the number of Sunday services (27) and over three times as many of services on Saturday (19). This will mean that around half the hourly Glasgow-London services and two-hourly Glasgow-Birmingham services can call at the North Lanarkshire town.

The changes will reshape Motherwell into a major calling point on the West Coast Main Line and one of the best-connected locations in Scotland for cross-border travel, after significant investment by the Scottish Government and ScotRail to make the station a key transport hub. 

It is hoped the improved connectivity will help attract investment to the region in the coming years and persuade more passengers to choose train over plane when travelling to London and Birmingham, helping with both Scottish and English governments’ carbon reduction targets.

Avanti West Coast is exploring options to introduce some of the additional stops from December 2020, with the remaining stops being added to the timetable next year, depending on how things develop with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The uplift in services was planned by Avanti West Coast after taking over intercity passenger services on the West Coast Main Line last December and will be delivered in partnership with Network Rail, as part of the industry’s timetable changes that take place every May and December.

UK Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “It’s fantastic that Motherwell will be a major port of call for Avanti West Coast, with a significant increase in the number of services helping improve connectivity, boost the economy and encouraging people to use a greener, more sustainable form of travel between our two nations.

“As we build back better from the pandemic, boosting cross-border connections will be key to helping support, sustain and strengthen our communities as we level up the whole of the UK.”

Bill Reeve, Transport Scotland’s Director of Rail, said: “We are delighted to have worked in partnership with Avanti West Coast to enable a future increase in their cross-border services calling at Motherwell station.

“Our investment in customer facilities and services at this key station increases opportunities for commuters, business users and tourism alike. It also underpins a fast-growing transport hub served by not only ScotRail, Avanti West Coast and other cross-border operators, but also by local operators such as bus.

“At the right time in the future, this additional service provision will enable operators to drive market growth in joined-up journeys. With that we can generate a healthy future for rail across the West Coast and beyond as we seek to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”  

Councillor Paul Kelly, deputy leader of North Lanarkshire Council, said: “I am very pleased that Avanti West Coast is backing Motherwell as one of the best-connected places in the country, which fits with the council’s vision for the local and regional economy.

“Our current and planned investments in Motherwell and the wider area will bring huge benefits to people who live, work and invest in North Lanarkshire. Upgrading Motherwell’s status as a major rail calling point is a critical part of our vision and Avanti West Coast’s decision to invest here with such a significant increase in service is very welcome news indeed.”

Gus Dunster, Executive Director of Operations at Avanti West Coast, said: “We are excited to make Motherwell one of the best connected places in Scotland, as we work with Network Rail to deliver a major uplift to services to and from the town.

“At Avanti West Coast we want to connect people and places to opportunity and with Motherwell set to become a major calling point on our route we’re sure it will boost Scotland’s regional economy, improve local and cross-border connectivity and encourage more passengers to make the switch from plane to train. We look forward to continuing to play our part in making Motherwell a key transport hub.”

Liam Sumpter, Network Rail Scotland route director, said: “This increase in Avanti West Coast services through Motherwell will open up long-distance rail to new customers and, coupled with the redevelopment of the station, shows the rail industry’s commitment to investing in the town. Rail has a vital role to play in helping the country go greener and meet its decarbonisation targets and these additional services offer passengers greater choice – keeping the train competitive with air travel to London and Birmingham.”

The awarding of the additional stops comes just months after work on the first phase to Motherwell station’s redevelopment began. This will deliver improved links between bus and rail services as part of its regional transport integration hub.  

Timetable and ticket refunds update
Pendolino in face mask

Read about our changes to timetable and updated refunds policy in response to latest phase of the Covid-19 response

In response to the latest phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Avanti West Coast is reducing the number of service it operates, with Manchester and Birmingham going from three to two trains per hour to London this Saturday.

We are now also allowing customers who booked non-refundable tickets before national or regional lockdowns were announced to change their travel date free of charge for up to a year, in line with updated Government guidance, if this is changed prior to the train's departure. Customers who were due to travel on a train that will no longer operate due to timetable changes will be eligible for a full refund.

This is the fourth timetable change Avanti West Coast has made since the UK first entered lockdown in March, precipitating a dramatic drop in passenger volumes. These changes are expected to be visible several days before the new timetable takes effect.

Unlike earlier timetable changes, we have ensured that the changes we are now making have not resulted in a loss of service on any of our routes. This timetable is due to remain in place until May 2021 but may be reviewed in partnership with the Department for Transport in line with changes to travel  demand. There may be some changes to timings and stopping patterns in December.


West Coast Partnership in conversation

On 19 November, West Coast Partnership is hosting a webinar on growth and connectivity in the Midlands. Speakers include Mayor Andy Street; Sir John Peace, Chair of Midland Connect; Laura Shoaf, Managing Director of Transport for West Midland; Denise Wetton, Commercial and Business Development Director for Network Rail; Caroline Donaldson, Managing Director of West Coast Partnership Development; Richard Scott, Partnership and Strategy Director, West Coast Partnership (Chair).

Please do register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/growth-and-connectivity-in-the-west-midlands-registration-126302531271

The webinar is the latest in a series of engagements in which West Coast Partnership has contributed to debate over the future of the West Coast Main Line and development of HS2 with industry leaders and senior stakeholders.

On 28 October, Avanti West Coast Managing Director Phil Whittingham spoke at the Scottish Transport Awards Summit. Phil joined a discussion with Alex Hynes, Managing Director, Scotland's Railway and Bill Reeve, Director of Rail, Transport Scotland. They discussed measures to encourage passengers back on to trains in the short term, and investments in Scotland’s railways to drive cross-border connectivity and growth. There were 200 attendees from a wide range of stakeholder groups.

On 5 October, Caroline Donaldson spoke at the Conservative Party conference, at an event co-hosted with the Institute for Government. Caroline joined a discussion with Chris Loder MP and Simon Jupp MP, both members of the Transport Select Committee, as well as Laura Shoaf, Managing Director of Transport for West Midlands. They discussed measures to encourage passengers back on to trains in the short term, and how to ‘build back better’ to make rail attractive to customers in the long-term. Over 200 attendees watched the discussion.

On 18 September, West Coast Partnership Chief Executive Steve Montgomery and Caroline Donaldson spoke at the Transport Times annual Rail Summit. Steve joined a discussion with Sir Peter Hendy, Chair of Network Rail; Andy Byford, Transport Commissioner, Transport for London; and Katy Taylor, Group Commercial and Customer Director, Go-Ahead Group. They discussed measures to encourage passengers back on to trains in the short term, and how to ‘build back better’ to make rail attractive to customers in the long-term. Caroline joined a discussion with Mark Thurston, CEO HS2; Jim Steer, Director, Greengauge21 and Frazer Henderson, Head of Rail Policy, Transport Scotland. They discussed HS2 Phase 1 and Beyond, focused on how to maximise rail infrastructure investment and collaboration to deliver regional growth and community development for the benefit of customers.

In August, senior figures in the North of England and rail industry championed the importance of partnership working as well as transport’s role at the heart of growth and recovery across the North at a virtual roundtable event hosted by WCP.

Titled Growth and Connectivity in the North West, the event brought together Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester; Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool city Region; Transport for the North’s Strategic Rail Director, David Hoggarth; and Caroline Donaldson, Managing Director of West Coast Partnership Development (WCPD) – the team working with the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd to design and develop high speed services on HS2 infrastructure.

Our Customer and Communities Investment Scheme
AWC livery on Pendolino

New £2.2m fund to respond to customer feedback and community wants and needs launched

We’re excited to announce our Customer and Communities Investment Scheme which provides funding support to help deliver improvements at or near our stations responding to customer feedback and community wants and needs.

With £2.2Million available over the next two years, we’re seeking suggestions from stakeholders and encouraging applications from local community groups needing support for schemes which can be delivered between April 2021 and March 2023, and deliver one of more of the following benefits:

  • Improvements to station facilities
  • Increased social value in the community
  • Improvements to customer experience
  • Increased integration delivering a better end to end journey
  • Increased awareness of the benefits of rail travel
  • Support for the local economy
  • Reduced environmental footprint

We’re also asking applicants to align their schemes with one or more of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Funding criteria apply. You can find more information about the scheme and apply on our website by clicking here [CF1] 

Applications close on 15 November 2020, following which applications and suggestions will be reviewed and prioritised, with recommendations submitted to the Department for Transport for approval. Funding will be awarded from April 2021 with approved schemes delivered by March 2023.

If you would like to discuss a suggestion for an improvement at a station, or a scheme you have in mind for near the station, you can contact your Regional Growth Manager who will be happy to offer their support.

 [CF1]Link to https://www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk/where-we-go/community-hub

“At-Seat Order” catering and return of Seat Picker

Avanti West Coast customers are set to benefit from a new service where they can have food and drink delivered to their seat.

Whilst customers in First Class have always enjoyed being served at their seat, trials have recently taken place on selected Pendolino trains which enable customers in Standard to order food and drink and have it delivered to them.

Customers can log on to the onboard Wi-Fi using their mobile phone, tablet or laptop and then visit the dedicated page in their browser to choose their refreshments.

Payment is through debit or credit cards or PayPal. The order is then delivered to their seat by an onboard Customer Service Assistant.

Avanti West Coast has also tested Click and Collect – giving customers the option to choose food and drink at their seat before collecting from the onboard shop. Those using this will get a notification by text when their order is ready to collect.

Meanwhile, customers will also benefit from the return of Seat Picker later this month, allowing them to pick the seat in which they wish to sit. For the time being, this will only make seats available that align to socially distanced Covid-19 restrictions.

The Seat Picker function is being made available for customers on desktops and then this will be rolled out to customers using our app early in the New Year. This has been done as part of the move to the new PICO booking engine which will enable far greater functionality when booking Avanti West Coast journeys.

Pride in our work!

Avanti West Coast launches the UK’s first fully wrapped Pride train staffed by all LGBTQ+ crew

We continue to focus on supporting our people, who are doing an incredible job during these very difficult circumstances. In August, we launched Live Proud, our inclusion initiative which shapes every aspect of our business – from recruitment to development and the welfare of our workforce. We marked this with the launch of the UK’s first fully wrapped Pride train entirely staffed by an LGBTQ+ crew. After Covid-19 forced the cancellation of Pride events across the country, which Avanti West Coast had planned to support, we covered one of our iconic Pendolinos with the progressive Pride flag.

The train was wrapped in the most recent iteration of the Pride flag which sees the addition of the colours black, brown, light blue, pink and white to bring people of colour, transgender people and those living with or who have been lost to HIV/AIDS to the forefront, highlighting Avanti West Coast’s progressive commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Diolch am deithio gyda Avanti West Coast

Welsh language announcements and information displays have been introduced onboard 

  • Welsh language announcements and displays introduced onboard Avanti West Coast services to and from North Wales
  • Avanti West Coast partner with the Welsh Language Commissioner to roll out to entire Super Voyager fleet
  • New Hitachi trains due in 2022 will also have Welsh announcements

Avanti West Coast, with the support of the Welsh Language Commissioner, has introduced Welsh language announcements and information displays onboard its service to and from North Wales.

Working closely with the Commissioner, whose vision is a Wales where people can use the Welsh language in their everyday lives, Avanti West Coast has reaffirmed its commitment to the region with the last of the 20 modified trains entering service this week

The work was undertaken by Bombardier at their Central Rivers depot.

“This is a simple but important milestone, one that highlights our commitment to serving North Wales,” commented Tim Barton, Onboard Manager for Avanti West Coast.  “With new trains due to arrive in 2022, additional services next year to Llandudno and plans to move into new offices in Holyhead, the investment is set to delivery real benefits for our customers. It’s an exciting time.”

Aled Roberts, The Welsh Language Commissioner said: “We welcome Avanti West Coast's commitment to the Welsh language. It is important that passengers in Wales hear Welsh, and realise that it is an official language in Wales. Not only is it an essential service for Welsh speakers, it also raises the awareness of our language among visitors.

“It is great that my officers had the opportunity to work with Avanti West Coast to provide this service. I look forward to seeing how the company will develop their Welsh language service further in the future.”

The news comes after Avanti West Coast reinstated its direct services from London to Holyhead and Wrexham earlier this month.

Avanti West Coast makes young rail enthusiast’s day

Avanti West Coast has helped a youngster’s dreams come true with VIP tour of Stafford station for an afternoon of trainspotting heaven.

Dillon Jones, 12, has his heart set on a career on the railway and was invited to join the Avanti West Coast team where he got the chance to try his hand at a number of duties including making his own station announcements.

Dillon, who has autism, is a passionate train enthusiast and a regular at Stafford station. On a recent visit, his first since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was presented with his own Avanti West Coast pin badge.  

After his mother, Jo, posted a message of thanks on a local Facebook Group, the pair were invited back by the team for a behind the scenes visit.

She said: “Dillon was made up to get his pin badge. He wanted to show it to everyone and tell them he worked for Avanti West Coast.

“He loves his trains. They play a big part in his life and how he copes with his autism. The team at the station were so kind, patient and understanding. To get invited back was the icing on the cake. It has really boosted his confidence and his dreams now seem more realistic. Thank you for making my little man’s week.”

Mark Sefton, Customer Service Team Leader for Avanti West Coast at Stafford, said: “It was great to be able to invite Dillon along to the station for some hands-on, real-life experience.

"As part of the afternoon, Dillon was presented with some Avanti West Coast gifts as well as a 12-month subscription to Railcam, the website that allows users to access real time footage of trains throughout the UK.

Simon Deane, Railcam News and Features Editor said: "Railcam is delighted to join with Avanti West Coast in providing Dillon with a memorable day. The COVID-19 pandemic had caused many traditional rail enthusiasts to furlough their hobby. Railcam has provided a virtual world of spotting from home. With over 100 camera streams available we think Dillon may be spoilt for choice."

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