Andy Burnham has urged the Transport Secretary to make Avanti West Coast run more trains to Manchester or terminate the firm’s contract.
In a letter to Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the mayor of Greater Manchester said he wants Avanti to run at least two services between Manchester and London per hour by the end of the month – or have their contract removed altogether.
The Department for Transport has today placed the train firm on a short-term contract to challenge it to deliver the urgent increase in services required.
Back in August, the train company announced it would be reducing its services between Manchester and the capital to just one per hour as a result of ‘unofficial strike action’ by ASLEF members.
And over the last three weeks, an average of 10% of Avanti West Coast services between Manchester and London were either cancelled or significantly late.
Over this same three-week time period, over a quarter of services (27%) have failed to arrive on time, according to Granada Reports.
Yet while Avanti has said it plans to return to an increased timetable by December 11th, Burnham said it should happen sooner, and is calling for two trains per hour by the end of October, and three trains by December.
In his letter, Burnham wrote: “Unless this happens and is clearly communicated, train travel between our most important economic regions will continue to be chaotic, forcing people into their cars or into abandoning plans to travel entirely.
“These dreadful conditions would be unacceptable at any time but are particularly so now given the wholesale collapse of the timetable, something no other train company is experiencing at anything like this scale.
“Passengers face other challenges too. Tickets are still only being released a few days in advance, making planning for individuals and businesses impossible.
“Without this commitment, I will be unable to support a new contract for Avanti.”
In response, a spokesperson for Avanti West Coast said: “We are already delivering on our commitment to increase the number of services we are running between Manchester and London, with three or four trains an hour departing Manchester Piccadilly at the key times of the day.
“We remain focused on providing a reliable train service for our customers and restoring a full timetable of three trains an hour all day between London and Manchester, in December.
“Our revised timetable, with no reliance on overtime, is also proving more reliable – in the last week, we have run 300 trains between London and Manchester, with approximately one in thirty of them cancelled, mainly because of short-notice sickness.
“That compares with one out of thirteen trains cancelled back in mid-July.
“Nevertheless, we know that at the moment we’re not delivering the service our customers rightly expect and we apologise for the enormous frustration and inconvenience this is causing.
“We would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding.”
‘Heartbroken’ family of three-year-old girl tragically killed in M6 crash pay tribute
‘RIP baby girl, we are all missing you and will carry on forever’
The three-year-old girl who tragically died in a horror crash on the motorway this weekend has been named.
Faye Dawson, from Wallasey in Merseyside, died when an elderly driver’s Porsche collided with the car she was in on the M6 in Lancashire.
Emergency services responded to the incident, which happened between Preston and Leyland, at about 5.50pm on Saturday, November 19th.
The M6 was shut in both directions for several hours following the tragic incident, with two lanes of the southbound carriageway remaining closed on Sunday while emergency surface repairs were undertaken.
Faye’s family have now released a tribute, saying: “We can’t see the future without you, it has left a massive hole in our lives.
“Everyone says how precious their daughter/granddaughter is but you were an exception, you were such a clever little girl who was very funny and had us all laughing all the time.
“You were so loving and caring and above all very loved by everyone who met you. You’re now at rest with your great nanny, great grandad, and Uncle Jimmy.
“Words won’t justify how much we are all going to miss you and how much we all love you. Your mummy is being so brave, and she will continue to make you proud.
“You were too little to be taken away from us, but we know the angels will look after you and they’re lucky to have you dancing in the sky with them.
“We are all so heartbroken that you were taken far too young, but we are so glad that we got to have you for the time we did.
“RIP baby girl, we are all missing you and will carry on forever. All our love.”
Police think that the Porsche – which was being driven by a 79-year-old man who also died at the scene – crashed into the Vauxhall Meriva that Faye was travelling in.
The car then flipped on its side and burst into flames, with two adults travelling in the Vauxhall rushed to hospital.
Faye’s mother suffered serious injuries and is being treated in hospital, while a man who was in the car also received serious injuries.
Officers are still appealing for witnesses. Sergeant Craig Booth, the serious Collision Investigator for Lancashire Police’s Tactical Operations Unit, said: “These are very sad and tragic circumstances.
“This was a traumatic scene for all witnesses and emergency services involved, I would like to pass on my thanks for their dedication in dealing with an incident which can only be described as horrific.
“We want to hear from any witnesses to the collision or those who have dashcam footage from the area around the time it happened.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident or has dashcam footage from the motorway can contact 101 – quoting log 1102 of November 19th, 2022.
‘Devastated’ family pay tribute to ‘kind and caring’ teenager stabbed to death
‘He was such a kind and well-mannered young boy’
The ‘devastated’ family of a young man killed in south Manchester have paid tribute to him.
The family of Kyle Hackland, who was fatally stabbed in Withington earlier this week, said there ‘are no words that can even begin to describe the pain we feel’.
Kyle, aged 17, sadly passed away in hospital as a result of his injuries.
He was fatally stabbed on Southlea Road in Withington at around 11:30am on Tuesday, November 22nd.
Paying tribute to him, Kyle’s family said: “We are devastated by the death of our beloved Kyle.
“He was such a kind and well-mannered young boy who always looked out for his family – never failing to say “love you” as he walked out the door.
“There are no words that can even begin to describe the pain we feel. We have always been such a close family, and this has shattered us all.
“He will forever be missed as a beautiful son as well as a caring and helpful big brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend. Life will never be the same without him, we are completely broken.”
Kyle’s family have asked for privacy at the moment, while they continue to grieve for their loss.
Here’s who could buy Manchester United as possibility of sale becomes more likely
Who would you like to see take over?
As we reported earlier this week, Manchester United could finally be sold by the Glazers after 17 years.
Reports from Sky News revealed that the American owners were preparing to announce their intention to examine sources of outside investment, potentially including a full-blown auction.
The Glazers’ time in charge of the Red Devils has been dominated by fan protests and a decline in on-pitch performances, culminating in Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent interview in which he openly criticised the club and owners.
And now, Manchester United’s owners have confirmed that selling the club is a possibility, as they seek to increase both its sporting and commercial success.
According to a statement, the board of directors was ‘commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club’, with this including the potential for ‘new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions’.
But who might buy Manchester United?
Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Sir Jim is one of Britain’s richest men with a reported net worth of £10.9bn. On top of that he’s a boyhood Man United fan, and already owns French side Nice and Swiss side FC Lausanne-Sport.
After it was reported back in August the Glazers were considering selling a minority stake of Manchester United, he expressed interest in buying the club.
A group of former Manchester United players
This option would be popular with fans, as a group of ex-United favourites have experience owning a football club – including Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, and Ryan Giggs, who are co-owners of Salford City.
The Red Knights
The Red Knights are a group of wealthy United supporters which count ex-Football League chairman Keith Harris, former Goldman Sachs chief economist Lord O’Neill, and hedge fund manager Sir Paul Marshall among their ranks.
A US private equity firm
Back in August, there were several reports that the New York-based private equity firm Apollo were in talks to buy a minority stake of the club.
A sovereign wealth fund
Unlike Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, Dubai is yet to acquire a Premier League football club, with the nation’s sovereign wealth fund reported as a potential bidder for United.
The statement from the Glazers to the New York Stock Exchange confirmed earlier reports and revealed the club’s next steps.
The statement says: “Manchester United plc, one of the most successful and historic sports clubs in the world, announces today that the Company’s Board of Directors is commencing a process to explore strategic alternatives for the club.
“The process is designed to enhance the club’s future growth, with the ultimate goal of positioning the club to capitalise on opportunities both on the pitch and commercially.
“As part of this process, the Board will consider all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions involving the Company.
“This will include an assessment of several initiatives to strengthen the club, including stadium and infrastructure redevelopment, and expansion of the club’s commercial operations on a global scale, each in the context of enhancing the long-term success of the club’s men’s, women’s and academy teams, and bringing benefits to fans and other stakeholders.”
Executive Co-Chairmen and Directors, Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer added: “The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers. As we seek to continue building on the Club’s history of success, the Board has authorised a thorough evaluation of strategic alternatives.
“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximises the significant growth opportunities available to the Club today and in the future. Throughout this process we will remain fully focused on serving the best interests of our fans, shareholders, and various stakeholders.”
The statement continued: “The Raine Group is acting as the Company’s exclusive financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP is legal counsel to the Company. Rothschild and Co. is acting as exclusive financial advisor to the Glazer family shareholders.
“There can be no assurance that the review being undertaken will result in any transaction involving the Company. Manchester United does not intend to make further announcements regarding the review unless and until the Board has approved a specific transaction or other course of action requiring a formal announcement.”