Avanti West Coast has announced it will be cutting services between Manchester and London throughout December.
In a move that the rail operator has assured customers is only a pre-emptive “temporary measure”, and one that has been owed to preparation for potential staff shortages, Avanti has confirmed that its timetable will be reduced in the run-up to Christmas – with changes set to impact Greater Manchester.
The changes will affect trains running between Manchester and London, as well as North Wales, Blackpool, and the West Midlands, the company has confirmed.
The December timetable cuts are a pre-emptive move for a period when drivers’ holiday requests and sickness are expected to be highest, and are services on which
Tickets for the services at-risk of being cut are yet to be sold.
Addressing the timetable cuts, an Avanti spokesperson said: “From 9 December to 31 December we will be removing a small number of services from our timetable, to enable us to run a more reliable service for our customers, and minimise unplanned, short-notice cancellations.
“This is a temporary measure, and we’re sorry for any inconvenience to our customers.”
The announcement that services are between Manchester and the capital are to be cut during one of the busiest times of the year comes after Avanti was controversially awarded a long-term contract to operate the West Coast Main Line a couple of weeks back.
Before this, the company had previously been given until 1 April 2023 to continue running the route from London to Glasgow, but had been told that it needed to “drastically improve” its services if it was to stand any chance of having the contract extended further beyond that date, due to its chaotic past since taking over from Virgin in December 2019.
Following DfT reviews, once again, Avanti’s long-term contract to operate the line was subsequently awarded in mid-September.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called Avanti’s slashing of services to and from the city-region in the run-up to Christmas a “kick in the teeth”, especially after the company had been handed the long-term contract, and also following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak‘s controversial and heavily-criticised recent decision to axe the northern leg of the new HS2 rail line between Birmingham and Manchester.
Burnham said Avanti “should have been left on probation” following the announcement.
“People in Greater Manchester deserve a stable, predictable rail service between here and London and it is simply not acceptable that, once again, it is being chopped and changed in this way,” Burnham said in a statement.
“This decision will see a significant reduction in levels of service between Manchester and London in the crucial period running up to Christmas, impacting on visitor numbers to the city and making it harder for people to get home to see their family.
“This is no way to run a railway, and our city-region deserves so much better”.
Featured Image – Avanti
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”