Rt. Hon Grant Shapps
Secretary of State for Transport
(via email)

Phil Whittingham
Managing Director
Avanti West Coast
(via email)

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.

Yours faithfully,

Lou Cordwell OBE                                                Clive Memmott OBE

Chair of Greater Manchester LEP                          Chief Executive, GM Chamber of Commerce

Co-Signed by:

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