Avanti West Coast boss quits amid mounting chaos

As rail passengers on the West Coast main line proceed to wrestle with much-reduced intercity rail companies, the boss of the prepare operator has stop.

Phil Whittingham, managing director of Avanti West Coast, will go away the enterprise on 15 September – the day of the following nationwide rail strike – “in order to pursue other executive leadership opportunities”.

Mr Whittingham led Virgin Trains whereas it operated the franchise on the principle line connecting London Euston with the West Midlands, northwest England and southern Scotland.

In December 2019, when Avanti West Coast took over the franchise, he continued within the position.

But Avanti West Coast has been more durable hit by unravelling operations than another main prepare agency.

At current passengers from London Euston to each Birmingham and Manchester are restricted to only one prepare an hour every approach moderately than three.

The agency has blamed “the current industrial relations climate which has resulted in severe staff shortages in some grades through increased sickness levels”.

Avanti West Coast added that almost all drivers had themselves “unavailable for overtime in a co-ordinated fashion, and at short notice”.

But Mick Whelan, basic secretary of Aslef, instructed The Independent:“When you lose goodwill and we go on strike, people not then coming in to work overtime is the first thing that normally happens.”

The day Mr Whittingham leaves, 15 September, will see what is predicted to be the largest nationwide rail strike in 4 many years.

Train drivers working for a dozen prepare operators, together with Avanti West Coast, will cease work in help of their pay declare. In addition, 40,000 members of the RMT union will stroll out. Only a fraction of regular companies are anticipated to run.

Mr Whittingham, 51, joined Virgin Trains in 1999.

Steve Montgomery, managing director of First Rail – the foremost companion in Avanti West Coast, alongside Trenitalia – mentioned: “Having led the team through the challenges presented by the pandemic over the last two years and into the recovery period, Phil leaves with the team ready for the challenges in delivering the future service requirements.

“I would like to thank Phil and wish him well in the future.”

Mr Steve Montgomery “will provide executive leadership support to the Avanti West Coast team” till a alternative is discovered.

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