Rt. Hon Grant Shapps
Secretary of State for Transport
Avanti West Coast
Dear Secretary of State and Mr Whittingham,
Avanti West Coast Service Reductions
We write to you as representatives of businesses in the Greater Manchester area to express our deep concern and frustration at the recent sudden and significant reduction in Avanti West Coast services and to seek an urgent restoration of the full timetable.
While we acknowledge the difficult challenges that the rail industry faces, Avanti provides our city region’s only direct rail connection with the capital and, as you would expect, is therefore of great economic importance to Greater Manchester; pre-COVID, business travel accounted for 58% of weekday peak-time rail journeys from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston.
Without this link, our businesses find themselves at a competitive disadvantage to other parts of the country, damaging prospects for economic growth at an already challenging time, with the costs of doing business rising and the impacts of the pandemic still being felt.
In addition to the serious overcrowding and associated safety concerns on severely restricted services, Avanti has very significantly limited its ticket sales, causing disruption and uncertainty for visitors wishing to come here, effectively indicating that our region is ‘closed for business’.
Given the severity of these impacts, we ask that you work to reach a resolution that provides Greater Manchester with the frequent and regular intercity rail service that its businesses and economy need to thrive in the shortest possible time.
As business organisations, we stand ready to do whatever we can to help restore the service that we rely on to drive economic activity in both Greater Manchester and London.
We look forward to your positive response and a swift resolution to this matter.
Lou Cordwell OBE Clive Memmott OBE
Chair of Greater Manchester LEP Chief Executive, GM Chamber of Commerce
Katie Gallagher, Managing Director of Manchester Digital
Emma Degg, Chief Executive of North West Business Leadership Team
Steven Underwood, Chief Executive of Peel Group and Peel L&P
Chris Oglesby, Chief Executive of Bruntwood
Paul Johnson, President of Manchester Law Society
Amanda Halford, Senior Vice President Sales, Service and Commercial Operations at Cytiva
Steve Connor, Chief Executive of Creative Concern
Lorna Fitzsimons, Co-Founder at The Pipeline
Sam Booth, Chief Executive at pro-manchester
Cindy Simmons, Managing Director at Manchester Publicity Association
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester
Vanda Murray, Chair of Marshalls plc
Justin Kyriakou, Regional Director North West at ICAEW
Chris Manka, Northwest Region Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses
Mike Blackburn, Chair of Marketing Manchester