The crisis on Avanti West Coast is escalating.
On 14 August 2022, Avanti – part-owned by FirstGroup and Trenitalia (Italy’s state-owned rail operator!) – drastically reduced the timetable on our West Coast Main Line.
Avanti is now running less than half of the usual services between London and our big north western cities: Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Carlisle, Glasgow and more.
On 2 September, Avanti’s £273,000-per-year boss Phil Whittingham announced he was leaving to “pursue other executive leadership opportunities”.
The company is in total disarray.
Meanwhile, on 4 September it was reported that the Department for Transport (DfT) is still planning to renew Avanti’s contract (which expires on 16 October) for another 10-years.
This is not any old rail contract either – it’s the so-called ‘West Coast Partnership’, which could see useless profiteers Avanti handed the keys to run the first services on our new HS2 line that will have been built with close to £100 billion of public money.
This must be stopped. Today our lawyers written to the DfT to demand they take these concerns seriously and act urgently to bring our West Coast Main Line back into public ownership (like LNER, Northern and Southeastern already are).
2nd August 2022 | News
Did you know that the UK Government is now consulting on the biggest legislative changes to our railways since the disastrous Railways Act 1993, which created privatisation? The deadline is this Thursday 4 August, 11:45pm.
They’ve done their best to keep this consultation hidden – rushing it through in just eight weeks over the summer. But this is a great opportunity to make the case for greater public ownership of rail – enabling direct awards to our publicly-owned operator, which currently runs LNER, Northern and Southeastern – to reduce fragmentation and ensure more of our railways are run in the public interest.
Today we’re launching a new petition to Make West Coast Public. If our East Coast Main Line can be run in public ownership, then our West Coast should be too.
27th January 2022 | News
Today we’re launching legal action against the Department for Transport to stop them awarding the disgraced private company Govia a six-year contract to continue running rail services on Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern. Together these form Britain’s biggest rail franchise (known as TSGN), which has been dogged by problems since Govia first took over operations in 2015.
What’s more, the companies that own Govia – the Go-Ahead Group (65%) and Keolis (35%) – are currently under investigation for alleged serious and long-standing fraud on their other neighbouring rail franchise, Southeastern.
The situation on Southeastern became so bad, that the Department for Transport took action to bring it back into public ownership in October 2021.
If Southeastern can be brought back into public ownership, then Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern should be too!
This would provide much better value for money, and be more transparent and accountable to the public. In the long-term, it would also enable us to deliver a re-unified and integrated commuter railway – improving connections with Transport for London and across the SouthEast.
We’re kickstarting this case with the funds left over from our successful legal action to make the East Coast mainline public in 2018.
We’re looking for further contributions from supporters to help us meet our £20,000 target before the deadline on 23 February 2022.
Our Lawyers’ Correspondence
• 1 February 2022: Devonshires to Department for Transport
• 11 February 2022: Devonshires to Department for Transport
• 16 February 2022: Department for Transport to Devonshires
• 2 March 2022: Department for Transport to Devonshires
• 22 March 2022: Devonshires to Department for Transport
• 25 March 2022: Devonshires to Serious Fraud Office
• 31 March 2022: Department for Transport to Devonshires
• 7 April 2022: Devonshires to Department for Transport
Freedom of Information Requests
• 27 January 2022, ‘New legal campaign to take Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern into public ownership’, Association of British Commuters
• 27 January 2022, ‘Commuters start legal case to re-nationalise Southern Rail’, Inside Croydon
• 3 February 2022, ‘Government faces legal threat over Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern Rail’, ITV News
• 10 February 2022, ‘Details of Go-Ahead rail scandal kept secret’, The Times
• 14 February 2022, ‘Department for Transport hides scandalous report on Go-Ahead fraud investigation’, Association of British Commuters
• 24 February 2022, ‘Dramatic increase to £80m in cost of Southeastern train accounting scandal’, The Guardian
• 24 February 2022, ‘£81.3m fine strengthens case against Southern’s new franchise’, Inside Croydon
• 28 February 2022, Fifteen years of fraud: allegations against The Go-Ahead Group have doubled in scale, Association of British Commuters
• 22 March 2022, Govia Ltd: the biggest rail corruption scandal since privatisation, Association of British Commuters
• 22 March 2022, Government is about to let #SouthernFail off the hook again, Inside Croydon
• 7 April 2022, The Rail Privatisation Scam, Tribune
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On the day Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched the long-awaited Williams Rail Review, Bring Back British Rail’s Ellie Harrison was invited on BBC 2’s Jeremy Vine programme to debate the pros and cons of the ‘Great British Railways‘ proposal with Pete Waterman.
Today Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson finally announced that the ScotRail franchise will be brought back into public ownership from 1 April 2022, when Abellio’s contract ends.
Thanks to everyone who signed our Make ScotRail Public petition, first launched the day after the Independence Referendum in September 2014. It has been a long fight, but we did it! Please share the good news on Facebook and Twitter.
1st March 2021 | News
Today the UK Government hikes rail fares in England and Wales by 2.6% – the first above inflation increase for seven years.
Meanwhile, they are busy trying to negotiate new ‘National Rail Contracts’ with a host of failed private train operating companies, which could lock us into this broken privatised system for decades to come.
Bringing all rail franchises back into public ownership would be simple, with the publicly-owned ‘Operator of Last Resort’ – which already runs LNER and Northern – ready to go. This could immediately enable fare cuts of 5%, and would ensure that our railways can be run in the interests of passengers and the environment to help get our country moving again as we emerge from the pandemic.
Please take action today by writing to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Scrap the fare hikes
End the contract chaos
We need public ownership now
7th February 2021 | News
Today we celebrate the Wales & Borders franchise being brought back into public ownership by the Welsh Government, following 25 years of failed privatisation. Announcing the move on 22 October 2020, the Welsh Minister for Transport Ken Skates MS said this would provide the “most stable financial base to manage rail services as we emerge from the pandemic”.
The Welsh Government must have been listening to our #TakeBackOurTrains campaign. We have been saying since the start of this crisis, that returning rail to public ownership is the only sensible response – to prioritise safety, save public money and help improve services in the long-term. As Ken Skates went on to say: “a new publicly owned model… will allow [Transport for Wales] to continue to put customers and communities at the heart of everything they do, with safety as their first priority”.
Now the Scottish Government and the UK’s Department for Transport must stop bailing out the failing private rail companies running Britain’s other rail franchises and follow Wales’ lead.
As a result of our #TakeBackOurTrains campaign, Bring Back British Rail’s Ellie Harrison was invited onto talkRADIO to discuss with Ian Collins how we can use the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to build back a better railway that is run in passengers’ interests.