Train cuts: Avanti West Coast drops 20 rail services between London Euston and Manchester

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Avanti West Coast's trains could hit Premier League football fans travelling to clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester City and Manchester United.

Train operator Avanti West Coast has announced it has cut 20 services on Saturdays between London and Manchester.

Services will be reduced by two fifths on Saturdays between Euston and Piccadilly stations.

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The operator has blamed industrial action and a shortage of train staff for the reduction in services. The reduced timetable will be in place until January 1 2024.

The Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed the timetable changes have been agreed in accordance to the contract with Avanti.

A DfT spokesperson said: "Despite progress since last year, Avanti still needs to further improve and we continue to hold it to account for matters within its control.

"Train crew shortages, linked to train drivers on average £60,000 salaries refusing to work overtime, highlight the need for modernisation across the wider railway that is being resisted by unions.

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"The temporary timetable changes were necessary to minimise short-notice cancellations due to train crew shortages and to accommodate engineering works that will maintain and improve the resilience of the network."

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: "We have been seeing some short-notice cancellations on our network and would like to apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused. We know this is not good enough and are working hard to make sure we can minimise these cancellations."

The train drivers' union, ASLEF, has criticised Avanti’s decision to cut train services in the lead up to Christmas.

General secretary Mick Whelan described the scion as a “shameful gift to give passengers this Christmas”.

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He said: “ASLEF has been warning for some time that the company has been trying to run its service on the West Coast main line on the cheap. Not employing enough drivers to deliver the services it has promised passengers – and the government – it will run has left crucial services understaffed and undervalued and it is the passengers, once again, who are going to pay the price.

“The consistent failures by Avanti West Coast mean it should be nowhere near our railway network. Instead of handing the company a bumper contract extension a few weeks ago the Tory government should have been getting a grip on the company and getting our railways back on track like the public deserve.”

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