One of UK rail’s leading train operators has been forced to reintroduce the same sparse schedules it ran during the height of the pandemic.

From August 14 Avanti West Coast says it will operate a maximum of four trains an hour from London Euston.

It means there will be just one train every hour (on weekdays) operating to Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.

These represent significant reductions in the case of Birmingham and Manchester.

In normal times Avanti West Coast would operate no fewer than three trains an hour to both cities.

Why the cuts? According to Avanti West Coast “this is due to the current industrial relations climate which has resulted in severe staff shortages in some grades through increased sickness levels”.

The operator’s performance has been below par for some time as readers have reported on our forum.

Indeed Avanti West Coast’s performance had deteriorated so much that this operator was subject to a discussion last month in the House of Lords, reports industry publication

I must stress that Avanti is withdrawing ticket sales and not allowing reservations between August 14 and September 11.

How long will these sparse schedules remain? Officially Avanti says they will be “indefinite” but as it’s a fluid situation I would expect there to be changes.

Avanti says it plans to restore seat reservations for the first week of the reduced schedules “towards the end of this week”.

Says Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, “Railways are vital arteries of the UK economy. Avanti’s move to a reduced schedule will create significant inconvenience for business travellers.”

Further details can be found on the Avanti website.

UPDATED ON 10/08/22

Quite of number of readers have commented against this piece.

Please bear in mind that the situation is fluid.

Updated information is posted on Avanti’s website:

Today we have been informed that Avanti is running no trains this coming Saturday August 13. It means that some stations along the route are expected to close.

In a statement Avanti says:

“We (Avanti) will not be running any services this coming Saturday owing to the ASLEF action. Subject to confirmation, we expect a number of stations along the route (including Birmingham New Street) to be closed on the day.”

This action has come at the busiest time of year for rail.  In particular it’s Scotland’s peak tourist season with, of course, the Edinburgh Festival in full swing.