Avanti West Coast has announced it will slash its train timetable until further notice, and has temporarily suspended ticket sales.
The rail company said it will operate with a reduced service, with trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly worst affected.
Train frequencies between the capital and Manchester will be reduced to as few as one per hour, rather than the usual three.
There’ll be only four Avanti West Coast trains per hour from Euston, one to each of Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
They say it’s because of ‘severe staff shortages’ and apologised for the ‘enormous frustration and inconvenience this will cause’.
Avanti West Coast said that many passengers have experienced short-notice cancellations in recent weeks and they hope the reduced timetable will allow them to run a reliable service.
A statement from the company 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 reduced timetable is being introduced to ensure a reliable service is delivered so our customers can travel with greater certainty. This decision was not taken lightly, and we are sorry for the enormous frustration and inconvenience this will cause.
“We urge the rail unions to engage in meaningful industry reform talks around modernising working practices and developing a railway fit for the 21st century. We remain open for talks at any time.
“Whilst the new timetable is finalised, we’ve temporarily suspended ticket sales and closed reservations from 14 August to 11 September – this is to minimise the number of people disrupted. We expect the first week’s tickets to be back on sale towards the end of this week, then the following weeks on a rolling, weekly basis.
“We plan to run four trains an hour from London Euston, one to each of Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. Every two hours, we will run through to Edinburgh, via the West Midlands. There will be a shuttle service between Crewe and Holyhead, plus a limited through service between Euston and Chester of one a day. This amended timetable will be in place until further notice, and we will continue to monitor and review the situation.
“If you’ve already booked to travel with us from 14 August onwards and your train is cancelled, your ticket will be accepted on the Avanti West Coast service before or after your original booked train. Alternatively, you can claim a full, fee-free refund from your point of purchase if you no longer wish to travel due to the amended timetable.”
Featured image: Avanti West Coast
One of the ‘best things to do in the WORLD’ is in Manchester – and it doesn’t even exist yet
A Manchester attraction has been named as one of the best things to do in the world in 2023 – despite the fact that it hasn’t actually opened yet.
Time Out said: “Manchester is making a storm right now, with the UK city being crowned one of the world’s very best places to visit by Lonely Planet in 2022.
“It’s not showing any signs of slowing down this year, with the long-awaiting opening of Factory International, a £186 million arts venue which will be the new, permanent home of the biennial Manchester International Festival.
“The 2023 festival (June 29-July 16) will be filled with all sorts of big shows and experiences to get stuck into – including the largest-ever immersive Yayoi Kusama exhibition and a stage adaptation of The Matrix directed by Danny Boyle.”
The £186m new cultural space Factory International is already taking shape in the city, a looming grey structure that will be home to a massive programme of arts and culture.
The acclaimed Danny Boyle will direct the venue’s opening production, a performance inspired by The Matrix films.
5000 tickets for Free Your Mind, which will be presented across the flexible spaces in the building, will be sold for £10 or less, to give everyone in the community a chance to experience the huge site.
Factory International is set to open its doors in June 2023, programmed and operated by the team behind Manchester International Festival.
The enormous 13,350 sq metre space inside utilises supersized moveable walls, which can reconfigure the space for different performances.
Its artistic programming has already begun too, in the form of its first installation First Breath, which has been lighting up the skies with something that locals say looks like an ‘alien invasion’. You can read all about that here.
Featured image: OMA 10
Mason Greenwood attempted rape and assault charges dropped
All criminal charges against Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood have been dropped today.
The 21-year-old faced allegations of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour, and assault, all against the same female victim.
The investigation was first opened in January 2022 but has today been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service, Greater Manchester Police has said.
Chief Superintendent Michaela Kerr, GMP’s Head of Public Protection, said: “Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man, who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022, no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this.
“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.
“Despite the media and public’s interest in this case, we have decided not to comment on it in any further detail.
“I would, however, like to use this opportunity to reiterate GMP’s commitment to investigating allegations of violence against women and girls and supporting those affected, regardless of their circumstances, throughout what can be a hard and upsetting time for them.
“An ever increasing number of officers are receiving specialist training and the force is more consistently utilising tools, available via the criminal justice system, to keep people safe and care for victims.
“If you feel you are or might be a victim, please don’t let this case put you off asking for help.”
GMP also outlined the support that is available:
If you or someone you know has been a victim of rape or sexual assault, we encourage you not to suffer in silence and report it to the police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.
You can also report information and crimes on our website (www.gmp.police.uk) using the ‘report’ tool.
Alternatively, you can report information anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
There are also lots of organisations and support agencies available across Greater Manchester that can help and provide support for you.
For more information on rape and serious sexual assault and the support services available to you, please visit our support pages.
Here are a few examples of the support centres who can help:
St. Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre – Manchester provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated response to men, women and children who live or have been sexually assaulted within Greater Manchester. They offer forensic medical examinations, practical and emotional support as well as a counselling service for all ages. Services are available on a 24-hour basis and can be accessed by calling 0161 276 6515.
Greater Manchester Rape Crisis – is a confidential information, support and counselling service run by women for women over 18 who have been raped or sexually abused at any time in their lives. Call on 0161 273 4500 or email [email protected]
Survivors Manchester – provides specialist trauma informed support to male victims in Greater Manchester who have experienced sexual abuse, rape, or sexual exploitation. Call 0161 236 2182.