Avanti West Coast Pendolino at Stockport (Photo Tony Miles)

UK: The Office of Rail & Road has told Avanti West Coast to submit an improved timetable production recovery plan by February 2.

The regulator said Avanti had initially made reasonable progress against its September 2022 recovery plan, but the position had deteriorated in 2023 with passengers only been able to book weekend travel at a few days’ notice. ORR said Avanti’s current plans for February show a better picture for weekday travel, but still fall short of passengers’ needs for weekends.

‘We expect Avanti to identify what has gone wrong and set out how it intends to get back to releasing timetables in normal industry timescales so that passengers can plan and book journeys with greater confidence’, said ORR Director of Strategy, Policy & Reform Stephanie Tobyn on January 24. ‘Failure to produce an acceptable plan or to deliver improvements may lead to more formal measures.’

A spokesperson for Avanti told Rail Business UK that problems were occurring because writing ‘unprecedented numbers of bespoke timetables to accommodate industrial action and engineering work’ was ‘stretching industry train planning resource’.

Avanti said it is working with Network Rail to get tickets on sale as soon as possible, and ’weekend tickets are now on sale up to mid-February, and by mid-March we’ll be selling weekend tickets six weeks out’.