Avanti West Coast reduced timetable: which train services are running - are refunds available for disruption?

Avanti West Coast confirms new limited service timetable including routes from London to Manchester, Birmingham Liverpool, Chester, Glasgow and Edinburgh

Train operator Avanti West Coast has stopped selling tickets or taking reservations for its services and warned passengers face weeks of reduced services amid an ongoing industrial dispute.

It said the reduced timetable would be in place “until further notice” and urged customers to double-check their planned route before setting off.

The operator, which runs routes from London to the West Midlands and Scotland, has suspended all ticket sales and reservations from 14 August until 11 September and cut services significantly.

Why is Avanti cutting services?

Avanti says that drivers refusing to work overtime has contributed to the disruption (Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP via Getty Images)

The operator blames severe staff shortage” for the changes.

It says “increased sickness levels” and the majority of drivers declining to make themselves available for overtime has led to a series of last-minute changes and cancellations in recent weeks. The reduced timetable is intended to allow for a more predictable and reliable service.

Train bosses claim the staff shortages are the result of “the current industrial relations climate” and Avanti West Coast boss managing director Phil Whittingham accused drivers of taking unofficial strike. The train drivers’ union Aslef, denied the claim and said the problems were due to the firm not employing enough drivers and “losing the good will” of staff who previously worked overtime.

Which Avanti services are still running?

In order to offer a more predictable timetable, Avanti has cut the number of services on the West Coast Main line from up to seven per hour to just four per hour.

Until further notice one train per hour will run from London Euston to each of Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

Every two hours, trains will run through to Edinburgh, via the West Midlands.

There will be a shuttle service between Crewe and Holyhead and one train per day between Euston and Chester.

Avanti West Coast’s problems come amid a series of separate strike action affecting rail operators around the country (Photo by Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images)

Precise timetables can be found on the Avanti website.

On 18 August - the next RMT strike day - services on Avanti routes will start later and finish earlier. The first trains from Euston - to Liverpool and Glasgow - will leave between two and three hours later and the last service will stop at around 4pm instead of after midnight.

How do I claim a refund for cancelled Avanti West Coast services?

Avanti West Coast has put in place measures for passengers who have already booked onto any of its affected services.

Anyone with a ticket on a cancelled Avanti train can use their ticket on the West Coast service before or after their originally booked journey.

Alternatively, passengers can claim a full fee-free refund from the operator.

For tickets bought directly from Avanti, travellers should submit an online claim via the company’s website. It has warned that trying to claim a refund via the regular user account method will incur a £10 admin fee.

For tickets bought from another website or app, travellers will have to contact the seller directly to claim their refund.

For tickets bought at a station, passengers can return the unused ticket to any National Rail station. However, returning the ticket to a station other than the one where it was purchased could mean it takes longer to process the refund request.

All refunds must be requested within 28 days of the ticket’s expiry date.

How long will services be disrupted?

Avanti has warned that the reduced timetable will continue “until further notice” and has only released full timetable details up to Friday 19 August.

It hopes to release tickets and reservations on a rolling weekly basis from the end of this week as the timetable is finalised but travel planning up to and including the first weekend in October is currently unavailable.

In a statement on the reduced timetable, the operator said: “We urge the rail unions to engage in meaningful industry reform discussions around modernising working practices and developing a railway fit for the 21st century and we look forward to further talks on this.”

Aslef said that the problem lay with the operator’s staffing levels, not industrial action. It said the only way to solve the problem was to employ more drivers.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “The truth is that the company does not employ enough drivers to deliver the services it has promised. In fact, the company itself has admitted that 400 trains a week are dependent on drivers working their rest days (that is, working overtime on their days off).

‘Avanti was already running a truncated timetable. Now it has doubled down by cutting even more services. It would have no need to do this if it had enough drivers.”

In a letter to the rail industry, Avanti West Coast’s Phil Whittingham said the firm was in the process of recruiting and training more than 250 more drivers.