RMT urges Transport Secretary to reverse Shrewsbury to London service cut

RMT urges Transport Secretary to reverse Shrewsbury to London service cut

5 March 2024

RMT Press Office

Rail union RMT, has called on Mark Harper to reverse the Avanti train service cuts which will mean there will be no direct train between Shrewsbury and London from June 2024.

The damaging decision has been taken according to Avanti to “reduce public subsidy and put the railway on a more sustainable financial footing.”
However, the publicly subsided company has paid out more than £24m in dividends to shareholders in the last two years.
In a letter to Mr Harper, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch writes:
I am writing to register RMT’s opposition to Avanti West Coast’s plans to withdraw the daily service between Euston and Shrewsbury from June 2024 and to call on you to reverse this short-sighted and damaging decision.
The Government has attempted to justify this decision by stating that few passengers use these services, yet, nationally rail passenger numbers are increasing, and research recently published by the Rail Industry Association (RIA) found that rail passenger numbers could double by 2050, and that even under the lowest growth scenario, passenger numbers are forecast to grow by more than a third.1 Rather than cutting vital services, the Government should be introducing measures to increase demand.
The Shropshire Chamber of Commerce has called for the decision to be reversed and highlights that ‘the discontinuation of this service risks isolating Shropshire businesses from the growth potential having a direct connection to the capital brings' and is ‘damaging to the local economy’.
Cutting services is completely at odds with the UK’s climate change targets, and requiring passengers to change services will undoubtedly deter passengers from rail and push more people into cars. Unfathomably, at a time when the Government should be supporting modal shift to rail, this decision would make Shropshire one of only two counties in England without a direct train service to London.
Avanti’s correspondence to us on this matter states that the decision has been made to “reduce public subsidy and put the railway on a more sustainable financial footing” which is frankly laughable given that in the last two years the company has paid out more than £24m in dividends, all funded from public money. This is just the latest example of Avanti putting profit before passengers and the Government’s complicity in this.
The planned service cuts are of even more concerning when considering that Avanti is already running significantly fewer services than when it took over the franchise. When Avanti took on the service, it was running on average around 8000 services per period and had promised a further 263 per week by 2022, which would have equated to around 9000 services per period. Yet, between September 2023 and January 2024, Avanti planned just 6370 services per period on average.
Of course, even fewer trains actually ran as a result of numerous cancellations.
Furthermore, the fact that there has been no public consultation over the planned service cuts just reinforces the disdain that is being shown to passengers yet again.
Ultimately, the decision to withdraw the Euston to Shrewsbury service is damaging for passengers, the economy and the environment. Therefore, I am calling on you to urgently reverse the decision to withdraw the Avanti Euston-Shrewsbury service, and instead commit to ensuring these services are permanently protected.

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Tagged with: Shrewsbury, cuts