Tuesday 21 March 2023

Avanti West Coast Partnership Extended Until October 2023

FirstGroup plc has announced that it has agreed with the Department for Transport (‘DfT’) to extend the current arrangements for the West Coast Partnership (‘WCP’) rail contract.

The current arrangements for WCP were due to expire on 31 March 2023 and are now extended to 15 October 2023 under broadly the same terms and conditions. 

The WCP rail contract comprises the operation of Avanti West Coast (‘Avanti’) and acting as shadow operator to the HS2 programme. 
Discussions are ongoing with DfT regarding the longer-term National Rail Contract for WCP.

The Group also announces that Andy Mellors has been appointed Managing Director of Avanti with immediate effect. Andy previously held senior roles at Great Western Railway, South Western Railway and most recently as Managing Director of the Group’s non-franchised rail businesses. 
Andy takes over from Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director who has been acting Managing Director of Avanti since September 2022.

Commenting, Graham Sutherland, FirstGroup Chief Executive Officer said:
"We are working closely with government and our partners across the industry to deliver a successful railway for our customers and communities. 

Performance at Avanti is steadily improving and since the introduction of the new timetable in mid-December, the number of services has increased by more than 40% compared to last summer, with more seats and better frequencies. 

The new agreement allows our team to continue their focus on delivering their robust plans to continue enhancing services for our customers, including further progress on our train upgrade and refurbishment programme.”

Avanti West Coast, operator of intercity rail services on the West Coast Main Line, is a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia. 

Refurbed Pendolinos are returning to the rails, with a £117m investment that’s delivering best in class comfort. 

Interior of a refurbished Pendolino

Rebuilt using sustainable materials wherever possible, including tables made from recycled plastic bottles, the upgraded Pendolino fleet offers 25,000 brand new seats, free  Wi-Fi, and much more.

New Hitachi trains are set to replace Voyagers

New Hitachi trains are set to replace Voyager trains from 2023, leading to a 61% cut in carbon emissions. Quieter and roomier, with more reliable Wi-Fi, wireless charging for electrical devices and a real-time customer information system, the new 23-strong fleet is the result of a £350m investment in sustainable travel.