Avanti West Coast has slashed its timetables and suspended ticket sales to Manchester ‘until further notice’.
The company said severe staff shortages caused by ‘unofficial strike action’ by ASLEF members is the reason for their reduced services, which are expected to be impacted for the rest of the month.
As a result of this, services will run on a reduced service, with trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly being the 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 will be just four Avanti West Coast trains per hour from Euston travelling to Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
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.
Ticket sales and closed reservations have also been suspended from August 14th to September 11th ‘to minimise the number of people disrupted’.
A statement from the company said: “From August 14th, 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.”
The company went on to urge rail unions to ‘engage in meaningful industry reform talks around modernising working practices and developing a railway fit for the 21st century’.
Their statement concluded: “If you’ve already booked to travel with us from August 14th 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, passengers can claim a full, fee-free refund from their point of purchase if they can no longer travel due to the amended timetable.
Police restart search for Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett as skull found
The search for murder victim Keith Bennet has resumed as ‘potential human remains’ were found on moorland, police have confirmed.
The remains were found during an independent search on Saddleworth Moor by author Russell Edwards, who reported his discovery to Greater Manchester Police.
Detectives are said to be analysing a small sample of the remains and some clothing, the MailOnline reports.
Twelve year old Bennett was one of the five children tortured and killed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in the 1960s. His body has never been recovered.
GMP said in a statement: “We have always said that GMP would act on any significant information which may lead to the recovery of Keith and reunite him with his family.
“Officers met with Mr. Edwards yesterday evening (September 29th), and he was able to locate a site of interest and provide us with further details of the work he has been carrying out.
“We are at the very early stages of assessing the evidence which he brought to our attention, but have taken the decision to excavate an area of land with a view to determining what lies there.
“It is far too early to be certain whether human remains have been uncovered, but out of respect for Alan Bennett, who we regularly maintain contact with, we have informed him of this potential development.
“Alan does not wish to be disturbed at this time and we would ask that his request for privacy is respected.”
Bennett was lured into a van by Hindley on June 16th, 1964. He was then taken to Saddleworth Moor, where he was sexually abused and murdered by Brady.
Despite his heartbroken mother’s pleas, neither Brady nor Hindley ever revealed where they had buried his body.
Winnie Johnson continued visiting Saddleworth Moor to search for her son until her death in 2012.
Cause of Queen Elizabeth’s death revealed
Queen Elizabeth’s exact cause of death has been revealed as an extract of her death certificate is released to the public.
The Registrar General for Scotland, Paul Lowe, confirmed that Her Majesty The Queen’s death was registered in Aberdeenshire on September 16th, and that the cause of her death was old age.
The document, released by National Records of Scotland, notes the Queen died at 3.10pm on Thursday September 8th.
The Queen’s only daughter Princess Anne is named as the ‘informant’ on the document, and would have notified the local registrar of her mother’s death.
Anne, who accompanied her mother’s coffin as it travelled from Balmoral to London via Edinburgh, was with the head of state in her last moments.
She said: “I was fortunate to share the last twenty-four hours of my dearest mother’s life.”
Queen Elizabeth was laid to rest on September 19th following a historic seventy-year reign on the throne.
Her Majesty spent four days lying-in-state at Westminster Hall ahead of the state funeral, where around 250,000 Royal well-wishers came to pay their respects and say a final goodbye.
Royal Mail to strike for 19 days with Black Friday and Christmas deliveries affected
Strike action will take place across October and November
Black Friday and Christmas deliveries face delays as Royal Mail workers prepare to strike across the next two months.
The Communication Workers Union announced that action in October and November will be a mixture of ‘single days and rolling action’ across Royal Mail Group’s network.
This includes walkouts from 4am on October 13th for twenty-four hours, and then again on October 20th and 25th, as well as November 28th.
The union said the strike action will have a ‘dramatic impact’ on deliveries, and will cover peak mail periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas build-up.
It could also impact Amazon’s second Prime Day, with sale dates for subscribers on October 11th and 12th.
The CWU says the strike action comes following an ‘outrageous’ decision made by the Royal Mail Group’s senior management to withdraw from major national agreements, push ahead with cuts to workers’ terms and conditions and ‘completely sideline’ the union.
General secretary Dave Ward said: “This is a significant announcement, but it is one which matches the level of anger our members feel at the way Royal Mail Group has treated them.
“The chief executive of Royal Mail Group is treating postal workers as if they are stupid. These are the same people that have kept the country connected and returned Royal Mail Group to record profit.
“Postal workers across the UK now face the fight of their lives to save their jobs and the service they provide to every household and business in the UK.”
Ward went on to urge everyone to ‘stand with their local postal worker’, adding: “If Royal Mail Group are allowed to get away with this then it sends a green light to every rogue big business in the UK.
“We will not stand by and see the Royal Mail Group become the next P&O but we need your backing to win.”
However, the Royal Mail says changes are needed as it is currently losing £1million a day. A spokesperson said: “On September 22nd, Royal Mail invited CWU to enter into talks through Acas to find a resolution to our dispute on change and pay.
“This evening, rather than responding to our offer of Acas talks, the CWU announced further damaging industrial action, once again taking the path of prolonging disruption over resolution.
“Royal Mail is losing £1 million a day and must change faster in response to changing customer demands. We operate in a competitive market, and our customers have choices… Further strikes and resistance to transformation by CWU will only make our financial position worse, and threatens the long-term job security of our postmen and women.
“The CWU has a responsibility to recognise the reality of the situation Royal Mail faces as a business and engage urgently on the changes required.
“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”