Labour says it will look at stripping ‘woeful’ Avanti West Coast of its contract if elected

"No ifs, no buts, October 2026 will be the last date for Avanti."

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 13th June 2024

Labour has said it will look at stripping Avanti West Coast of its contract, if elected next month, due to the company’s “woeful service”.

Ahead of the upcoming General Election due to take place on Thursday 4 July, Labour and its leader, Sir Keir Starmer, have been outlining the Party’s vision for the both the immediate and long-term future of the country – and now, Shadow Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh, has been having her say on a topic that continues to affect many Greater Manchester residents.

Avanti has been operating the West Coast Main Line service – which is one of the most important railway corridors in the UK – since December 2019 after taking over from Virgin, and was controversially awarded a long-term contract to continue operation in September of last year.

Before this, the train company had previously been given until 1 April 2023 to continue running the route from London to Glasgow, but had been told due to its chaotic past that it needed to “drastically improve” its services if it was to stand any chance of having the contract extended further beyond that date.

Office of Rail and Road figures show that Avanti West Coast had the third-worst reliability of all operators in Britain in the year to the end of March – with the equivalent of one in 15 trains (6.9%) cancelled.


A new study published in April even revealed it as Britain’s “most unreliable” train operator overall.

Despite many customers continuing to voice discontent with level of services during this time, the Department for Transport (DfT) still went on to award Avanti another six-month contract extension from the start of April onwards, after it deemed “significant improvements had been made since October”.


Following DfT reviews, once again, Avanti’s long-term contract to operate the line was subsequently awarded in mid-September 2023.

When asked about Avanti West Coast’s future, and pressed on Labour’s plan to bring train services into public ownership during an interview with Kay Burley on Sky News yesterday morning (13 June), Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh explained: “Our commitment is to bring in those contracts as they expire or when they are breached.

“I anticipate I will be seeking advice early on whether Avanti has been in breach of its contract, given the woeful service that it’s been providing to passengers down the West Coast Main Line.”


Ms Haigh then insisted that October 2026 would be Avanti’s cut-off date, if Labour’s elected.

“No ifs, no buts, October 2026 will be the last date Avanti will have notice of that contract ending,” she added, “But I will ask for early advice about whether they have already breached their contract and whether it can be brought in any earlier.”

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Labour’s voicing of its intent to strip Avanti West Coast of its contract also comes after the Party announced its vision to transform the country’s childcare and early years education system earlier this week.

The Party pledged to convert more than 3,000 vacant school classrooms across England into nursery facilities if elected next month.

Featured Image – Avanti West Coast