In a light-hearted Transport question time today (8th June) Michael Fabricant asked about Avanti Train services to and from Lichfield Trent Valley station.
Michael says “The Speaker squeezed in my question at the very end of the session about Avanti services from Lichfield Trent Valley station. He has a well-known personal interest in the Avanti Train Service as he has problems getting down from Chorley and says (off mic) “This has to be a question about Avanti!” Then another MP inadvertently broke standing orders by crossing the line of sight between me, the Speaker, and the rail minister and gets called out by Mr Speaker causing me to have to ask my question again.
Editing out all the interruptions, Michael asked: “What comparative assessment he has made of the service delivered by Avanti’s rail timetable (a) now and (b) at the launch of that franchise?”
The Minister of State for Rail and HS2, Huw Merriman, replied: “Avanti began operating in December 2019 and within 16 weeks they transitioned onto an Emergency Measures Agreement due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then the service provision has adjusted to align with demand, and to balance taxpayer and passenger needs.
“I welcome recent performance improvements, with Avanti-caused cancellations down from 13.2% in January 2023 to 1.4% for the month of April.
Michael replied: “I think Mr Speaker might well disagree and say that the reliability of Avanti is still not that good.
“Nevertheless, my question is about services from Lichfield Trent Valley station, and I just wonder when services can be restored whereby we have a decent timetable on Sundays, particularly early Sunday evenings, both down to Euston and to the north? That used to exist before Covid with two early evening services, but there are now no longer any Avanti trains at that hour.”
Huw Merriman replied: “Anything that deprives getting my Hon Friend getting down from Lichfield, and indeed his constituency, is something I will have to look at and help. I am meeting with the Avanti managing director today as it turns out; I will raise this point, and very happily write back to him and do my best.”
Michael Fabricant now says “I look forward to receiving the update and hope that Avanti services can be restored from Lichfield Trent Valley. Nothing is more irritating to passengers waiting on the platform than seeing Avanti trains passing through the station at high speed and never stopping!”