5 minute read – West Coast main line flood repairs to impact London Euston trains

Rail passengers are being warned of changes to trains in and out of London Euston so urgent repairs can take place after severe flash flooding.

The deluge in the capital on Monday 12 July caused an electricity substation to catch fire disabling London Overground services to Watford.

Urgent repairs need to take place to pump away any remaining standing water and fix cables damaged in the electrical fire.

The work means all lines in and out of London Euston must be closed between 11pm on Wednesday 14 July and 6am on Thursday 15 July. Passengers are being asked to travel early on Wednesday night.

The urgent repairs will impact Avanti West Coast, London Northwestern Railway, Caledonian Sleeper and London Overground passengers at the end of tomorrow and first thing on Thursday morning.

Bus replacement services will be in place to keep passengers on the move and people are being urged to check www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest information.

James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route director, said: “I’m sorry that your journeys have been disrupted this week. Our engineers will be making critical repairs on Wednesday night. 

“The floods made the railway look like a swimming pool, but with 750 volts of electricity running through it. We’ve had to make the site safe before going in and pumping away the remaining flood water and repairing the fire damage.”

For more information on how Network Rail deals with flooding visit: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/delays-explained/flooding/

Upgrade to Avanti West Coast Voyager fleet now complete

Avanti West Coast partner with Bombardier to complete refresh of entire Voyager fleet 

  • All 20 Voyager trains have now undergone an extensive interior refresh
  • £8.3m programme delivered in less than six months by Bombardier
  • Time lapse video captures week long programme of works

Avanti West Coast rolled out its final upgraded Voyager train today (Friday, 17 December) marking the end of a six-month overhaul programme.

The £8.3m investment was completed at Bombardier’s depot in Ilford, east London, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, with customers already benefitting from the trains’ revitalised interiors.

The refresh of the 20 trains includes new Standard Class seats covers and carpets as well as a revamped toilet area. All older lighting has been replaced with more energy efficient LEDs.

The interior bodyside and ceiling panels in Vestibules, toilets and Standard Class saloons have also been refinished in either paint or vinyl wraps. The door grab handles have been coated with an anti-microbial finish.

The full programme of work was captured in a unique time lapse video which can be downloaded here:

Avanti West Coast Senior Project Manager, Adrian Bullock, explained: “This investment has delivered a step change to the Voyager’s onboard environment. Our customers will really notice the difference.”

“It’s given the trains a new lease of life, and they will continue to serve our customers   for the next two years with great distinction.”

The 20 Voyagers operate over the non-electrified sections of the West Coast Main Line in addition to running from London to Scotland, via the West Midlands. They will remain in service until 2022 when Avanti West Coast will introduce a fleet of new Hitachi Class 805 and 807 trains.

Eric Holmes, Head of UK Services, Bombardier Transportation said; “We are very pleased to have completed this project for our friends at Avanti West Coast. The team at our Ilford facility have performed exceptionally well, despite the challenge of COVID-19, and have delivered a high-quality product on time and on budget. We are all proud of what we have delivered to our customer.”

Avanti West Coast gives customers option to donate Delay Repay compensation to charity

Customers eligible for Delay Repay can now donate their compensation to Avanti West Coast’s charity partner, Action for Children. 

  • Avanti West Coast customers can now donate compensation for delayed journeys to charity
  • Delay Repay donations will support its charity partner Action for Children
  • Money will help fund programmes to improve young people’s mental health

Avanti West Coast has launched an initiative enabling customers to donate compensation for delayed journeys to its charity partner, Action for Children.

Customers travelling on the inter-city operator’s services who are eligible for Delay Repay – a scheme to claim compensation when a journey is delayed by 15 minutes or more – can now request all of their compensation to be donated to the children’s charity.

When claiming Delay Repay, customers can select how they wish to receive compensation. The addition of ‘donation’ as an option means the money, which is the equivalent to all or part of the ticket cost for their delayed journey, is sent directly to Action for Children.

Customers registered for Automatic Delay Repay can decide when to donate, by changing the fulfilment method at the time of accepting their reimbursement.

Action for Children protects and supports children and young people, providing practical and emotional care and support. This latest initiative is part of Avanti West Coast’s work with the charity to support young people on their journey to better mental health.

Donations to the charity will help to deliver their mental health programmes, which are designed to help equip young people and their parents in the UK with the skills and the confidence to care for their wellbeing, and get help when they need it.

Joanna Buckley, Community Manager at Avanti West Coast, said: “We want to make a difference to the communities we serve and connect young people to opportunity, so we are proud to be supporting the work of Action for Children through our Delay Repay scheme.

“While we strive to deliver the best possible experience, we are committed to ensuring our customers are compensated when their journey is delayed by 15 minutes or more and this latest initiative allows them to donate their compensation to help others local to our route. The kindness of our customers will help Action for Children to deliver their mental health programmes, which are more vital than ever with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Ermelinda Ceci, Senior Corporate Development Executive for Action for Children, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Avanti West Coast for setting up this initiative. Our frontline workers tell us the crisis has damaged the mental health of over three-quarters of the children and young people they support, with some experiencing night terrors, bed-wetting, self-harm and outbursts of anger, so it’s crucial they receive support as early as possible. All donations will ensure Action for Children can be a lifeline for those young people and give them the tools they need to be able to cope. Together, thanks to these generous customer donations, we will support even more young people on their journey to better mental health.”

Avanti West Coast makes Friday an ‘off peak’ day

Avanti West Coast has removed Friday morning peak restrictions on long distance journeys to and from London Euston starting from today, 20 November.

The trial, which will run into the New Year, means customers can take advantage of the full range of Off Peak and Advance tickets throughout the day and make a much earlier start to their weekend.

The current Friday morning peak restrictions means customers with Off Peak tickets must wait until typically 09:30 before starting their journeys. For example, the first Off Peak train from Manchester to London is the 09:35 departure, which arrives into Euston just before midday. Customers will now be able to travel on any train (from as early as 05:05) and make the most of their Fridays.

Customers who previously travelled in the morning peak on a Friday, with a fully flexible ticket, will save on average around 50% – 60%. For example, a customer will pay no more than £64.40 for a Standard single from Manchester to London (a saving of 64% on the current walk-up fare), and as little as £25 with the lowest priced Advance Fare (previously  unavailable on peak time services).

Afternoon peak restrictions on a Friday were already removed and this move makes the entire day “off peak”.

Sarah Copley, Executive Director, Commercial at Avanti West Coast said: “Removing the Friday morning restrictions gives customers more freedom to choose when they travel and when lockdown measures ease make the most of their extended weekends and days out.

“Just as importantly it allows us to spread demand and maintain social distancing onboard our services. This will help our customers who decide to travel, to travel with confidence.”

David Sidebottom, Director, Transport Focus added: “Passengers will welcome this trial. Any move that helps save money and maintain social distancing should prove popular, and when the time is right, encourage more people to use rail services again.”  

Avanti West Coast signs up for Rail Aid

Avanti West Coast is offering enthusiasts the chance to get their hands on some eagerly sought after railway artefacts to help raise money for charity.

A number of signs from Crewe station are up for grabs, the proceeds of the auction going to Rail Aid, the Railway Children’s week long fundraising initiative taking place later this month.

The large station signs, measuring 1.98m x 56cm, come in two designs and were taken down earlier in 2020 after many years use at a station familiar to so many rail travellers. 

Rail Aid is a new fundraising mission led by charity Railway Children, bringing the best of the UK rail community together to raise money and help vulnerable children whose lives have been impacted by coronavirus.  

“The signs have helped welcome so many customers over the years, so we really wanted to find them good homes,” said Karen Grimshaw, Station Manager for Avanti West Coast at Crewe. “And if we can raise some money for such a fantastic cause at the same time, even better.”

Across the rail industry, individuals and businesses will be taking part in a week of activities (Nov 22nd – 27th www.railaid.co.uk ), culminating in a live online show, celebrating achievements, featuring some of the key figures in rail and showcasing the industry at its very best.

Terina Keene, Chief Executive, Railway Children, said: “So many people have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19 and that means children, both in the UK and overseas, are even more vulnerable to finding themselves on the street and in need of our support.

“The railway family has played such a key role during a time of national emergency and we really appreciate the support of Avanti West Coast.”

How do I bid for a sign?

Anyone interested in bidding for one of the signs should email richard.stanton@avantiwestcoast.co.uk , including their details and confirmation of their bid. The signs are expected to fetch in the region of £100 each.

The auction closes at midnight on Saturday 21st November. Winning bidders will be notified the following Monday, with all proceeds going to Rail Aid. Collection will be from Crewe station.

Avanti West Coast makes young rail enthusiast’s day

Avanti West Coast has helped a youngster’s dreams come true with VIP tour of Stafford station for an afternoon of trainspotting heaven.

Dillon Jones, 12, has his heart set on a career on the railway and was invited to join the Avanti West Coast team where he got the chance to try his hand at a number of duties including making his own station announcements.

Dillon, who has autism, is a passionate train enthusiast and a regular at Stafford station. On a recent visit, his first since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was presented with his own Avanti West Coast pin badge.  

After his mother, Jo, posted a message of thanks on a local Facebook Group, the pair were invited back by the team for a behind the scenes visit.

She said: “Dillon was made up to get his pin badge. He wanted to show it to everyone and tell them he worked for Avanti West Coast.

“He loves his trains. They play a big part in his life and how he copes with his autism.  The team at the station were so kind, patient and understanding. To get invited back was the icing on the cake. It has really boosted his confidence and his dreams now seem more realistic. Thank you for making my little man’s week.”

Mark Sefton, Customer Service Team Leader for Avanti West Coast at Stafford, said: “It was great to be able to invite Dillon along to the station for some hands-on, real-life experience.

“He did a great job and we hope it’s whetted his appetite for a possible career on the railways. At a time when the world is having to deal with so much, it was great to see that passion and his wonderful smile.”

As part of the afternoon, Dillon was presented with some Avanti West Coast gifts as well as a 12-month subscription to Railcam, the website that allows users to access real time footage of trains throughout the UK.

Simon Deane, Railcam News and Features Editor said: “Railcam is delighted to join with Avanti West Coast in providing Dillon with a memorable day. The COVID-19 pandemic had caused many traditional rail enthusiasts to furlough their hobby. Railcam has provided a virtual world of spotting from home. With over 100 camera streams available we think Dillon may be spoilt for choice.”

“At-Seat Order” catering service introduced by Avanti West Coast

Customers are set to benefit from a new service where they can have food and drink delivered to their seat.

  • Customers in Standard can now order food and drink delivered to their seat
  • Trials have proved a hit with those using the service
  • The onboard shop remains open and ‘Click and Collect’ is also being tested

Avanti West Coast customers are set to benefit from a new service where they can have food and drink delivered to their seat.

Whilst customers in First Class have always enjoyed being served at their seat, trials are currently taking place on selected Pendolino trains which enable customers in Standard to order food and drink and have it delivered to them.

Customers can log on to the onboard Wi-Fi using their mobile phone, tablet or laptop and then visit the dedicated page in their browser to choose their refreshments.

Payment is through debit or credit cards or PayPal. The order is then delivered to their seat by an onboard Customer Service Assistant.

Avanti West Coast is also testing Click and Collect – giving customers the option to choose food and drink at their seat before collecting from the onboard shop. Those using this will get a notification by text when their order is ready to collect.

While the trials, known as At Seat Order, take place, the onboard shop will remain open if customers prefer to buy their food and drink in the more traditional way.

Initial feedback shows the service has proved successful so far and Avanti West Coast will look to roll it out across the network if the good results continue.

One customer, who used the service, said: “I didn’t need to leave my seat and I was able to fully relax on my journey.”

Another said: “It gave me an enhanced perception that Avanti care about my onboard experience.”

The service would run alongside the onboard Shop on all Pendolino services, which has now been installed with protective screens and safety lines in place to promote social distancing.

“We’re always striving to improve the experience for our customers and these new services will let customers choose the most convenient way for them to buy food and drink. The feedback so far has been really positive,” said Sarah Copley, Executive Director, Commercial at Avanti West Coast.

“For those travelling on their own or who don’t want to leave their seat – this is a perfect solution.

“Alongside our increased safety measures, this innovation enables customers to pay for their items digitally providing them with even more reassurance when they travel with Avanti West Coast.”

Earlier this month the complimentary at-seat catering service was reintroduced in First Class on all Pendolinos, along with a new menu, and last week it also returned to the Voyager fleet.  It was halted as a precaution because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For further safety measures introduced on our services see: www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk

Avanti West Coast to run more services from September

Avanti West Coast restores a number of direct links to London as part of its September 7 timetable uplift. 

  • Direct links to and from London restored for Shrewsbury, Wrexham, Chester and North Wales, Blackpool and Edinburgh
  • New timetable up to 90% of pre-COVID service levels
  • Customers reminded to book ahead and wear a face covering

Avanti West Coast will be restoring services to several destinations from Monday 7 September as part of changes to its timetable.

Shrewsbury, Wrexham, Blackpool and Edinburgh will all see the return of direct Avanti West Coast services to and from London for the first time since lockdown measures were enforced. North Wales will also be served by one train in each direction between Holyhead and Euston, supplemented by a shuttle service along the coast from Crewe. Chester will have three direct trains to London Euston.

In addition, the West Coast Main Line operator will continue to provide the additional early morning services between Milton Keynes to London that started in July and the late afternoon return services

The new timetable, with its 285 services (Monday to Friday), represents just over 90% of the normal pre-COVID levels.

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “These additional services will mean more room for social distancing onboard.  We would like to remind customers to book ahead, reserve their seat and wear a face covering whilst at the station and onboard our services.”

Avanti West Coast has also reintroduced its First Class at-seat service on their Pendolino services, whilst increasing the range of items to purchase from the onboard shop.

Avanti West Coast – First refreshed Super Voyager returns to service!

The first pictures of Avanti West Coast Super Voyager 221101 have been released after its return to service.

Standard class interior of set 221101 after it’s refresh

The refresh was the first in an £8.3m deal which was signed with Bombardier last year.

We reported on the plans in July and the full details can be seen here.

Super Voyager 221101 cab with it’s Avanti West Coast branding

Avanti West Coast launches customised real-time journey updates onboard

  •  Train operator develops new onboard service that updates customers on journey status
  • ‘Track My Train’ keeps customers informed onboard at the tap of a screen
  • Customers can track their train in real-time using own device

Avanti West Coast has launched a new passenger information service giving real-time journey updates to customers at their fingertips.

The onboard service called ‘Track My Train’, enables customers to follow the progress of the train they’re travelling on in real-time, using their own personal device.

Accessed exclusively through Avanti West Coast’s Wi-Fi homepage at the tap of a screen, Track My Train brings together live updates of a train’s journey and onward connections, tailoring it to each customer’s journey.

Developed in partnership with transport infotainment specialist, GoMedia, the onboard service uses live data from industry systems to show exactly where a train is, estimated arrival times along the route, any disruptions, and departure details for other rail services – all in one place. Therefore, customers can check the status of their journey without having to switch between screens or filter information.

To stay up-to-date onboard customers simply connect their device to the Wi-Fi and select the Track My Train icon. The tool auto-populates information relating specifically to the customer’s journey – helping to make the end-to-end experience more seamless. 

The technology is the latest initiative to be rolled out across Avanti West Coast’s fleet of Pendolino and Super Voyager trains. It follows on from the introduction of Avanti Media – a free on-board entertainment service that allows customers to stream movies, TV box-sets, games, magazines and newspapers to their personal device.

Bob Powell, Customer Proposition Director at Avanti West Coast, said: “We know how important it is for our customers to stay informed during their journey and Track My Train helps to do just that. This new service makes it easier for customers to follow their train’s progress while onboard, by providing concise and reliable information, tailored to journeys in real-time, at the tap of a screen.

“It has been great to work with GoMedia to develop this technology and we’re excited to offer it as part of our latest initiative to enhance the overall experience when travelling with us.”

Roger Matthews, managing director at GoMedia, adds: “Providing passengers with real-time information about their individual route, including connections and stations, creates a truly personalised experience, giving users control over their entire journey, door-to-door. This is now more important than ever with changing restrictions on the way we use public transport.”