Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has slammed Avanti West Coast after they announced they would be running on a reduced timetable until further notice.
The train company has temporarily suspended ticket sales and slashed services in a move that will worst affect trains between London and Manchester.
Train frequencies between the capital and Manchester will be reduced to as few as one per hour, rather than the usual three, with Avanti West Coast saying it’s because of staff shortages caused by ‘unofficial strike action’.
Mr Burnham has said the move is ‘nothing short of a disgrace’.
He wrote today: “Zero consultation and a dissembling explanation.
“Nothing short of a disgrace from @AvantiWestCoast.
“We will be writing to @grantshapps later today with a clear message: set them a deadline to fix the problems or strip the franchise.”
A statement from Avanti yesterday said: “From 14 August until further notice, we will be introducing a reduced timetable on our services. This is due to the current industrial relations climate which has resulted in severe staff shortages in some grades through increased sickness levels, as well as unofficial strike action by ASLEF members.
“As a result of the above, including the majority of drivers declaring themselves unavailable for overtime, our customers have faced multiple short-notice cancellations on our network which has had a severe impact on their plans.”
“The truth is that the company does not employ enough drivers to deliver the services it has promised passengers it will run. In fact, the company itself has admitted that 400 trains a week are dependent on drivers working their rest days (that is, working overtime on their days off).
“Avanti was already running a truncated timetable. Now it has doubled down by cutting even more services. It would have no need to do this if it had enough drivers!
“The company should stop lying and start recruiting. Then it will be able to deliver the services it has promised passengers it will run. At the moment the company is lying to passengers, and lying to staff. It needs to do better.”
Featured image: Avanti West Coast
Tameside police officers hailed ‘absolute heroes’ after saving the life of a seven-year-old girl
Two Tameside police officers have been hailed as “absolute heroes” after saving the life of a seven-year-old little girl.
It comes after emergency services were called to an address in the Greater Manchester borough of Tameside earlier this week (29 November), and found a young girl who was struggling to breath and coughing up blood after choking on a sweet.
Police Constables Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell, from Greater Manchester Police‘s (GMP) Tameside division, were first on the scene.
To the huge relief of the girl’s parents, who were said to be “understandably distressed” and concerned for her welfare, PC Kincaid jumped straight into action and was able to utilise his first aid training to full effect by going on to successfully dislodge the sweet from the youngster’s throat, and then helping to calm her down before the paramedics arrived.
Whilst PC Kincaid looked after the little girl, PC Blundell did “everything he could” to help the parents remain calm.
Paramedics then took over once they arrived, and the young girl was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Reflecting on the incident, and hailing his officers “absolute heroes”, Superintendent Mike Walsh, from GMP’s Tameside district, said: “PCs Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell acted without hesitation during the incident, and took control of the situation that they were faced with.
“They deserve every credit for staying calm under extreme pressure and for working together as a team and utilising their training to lifesaving effect, and I’m sure the girl’s parents and family will consider them to be absolute heroes.”
“We’re both glad that we were in the right place at the right time,” PC Kincaid added.
“I have a daughter the same age as the little girl who needed our help, and I cannot tell you how much of a relief it was when she started breathing normally and said she was okay after I had managed to dislodge the sweet.