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RAIL union RMT and Labour have slammed the Tories for awarding a lucrative long-term contract to a notorious rail company.
The Department for Transport have placed Avanti West Coast on two consecutive six-month contracts, while ordering it to address poor performance.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Over the past year, short-term contracts were necessary to rebuild the timetable and reduce cancellations.
“Now Avanti are back on track, providing long-term certainty for both the operator and passengers will best ensure that improvements continue.”
Avanti’s new National Rail contract starts on October 15 with a core term of three years, and maximum possible of nine.
The department also awarded CrossCountry a new contract with a core term of four years and a maximum possible of eight, starting on the same day.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Avanti are one of the worst rail companies on the network and it is a travesty that they have been awarded this contract.
“From supplying inappropriate uniforms to staff, mass cancellation of train services and multiple industrial disputes, Avanti have been an unmitigated disaster.”
He said CrossCountry “are little better,” adding: “By granting companies like Avanti and CrossCountry lucrative taxpayer-funded contracts, the government is rewarding abject failure and exposing how corrupt the current system is.”
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “Passengers who rely on this abysmal service will be appalled that, despite being almost rock bottom of the league table for delays, Avanti is being awarded a lucrative new contract.
“The only reliable thing about Britain’s railways under the Tories is the waste of taxpayers’ money, which the government has put into the pockets of shareholders.”
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