Ministers told fiasco train firm ‘must lose contract’ after boss steps down over timetable meltdown


Ministers told fiasco train firm ‘must lose contract’ after boss steps down over timetable meltdown

  • Avanti West Coast said its managing director will step down from September 15
  • Phil Whittingham was effectively sacked after a timetable meltdown last month
  • The Department for Transport said Avanti would not be stripped of its contract

Ministers faced calls to strip a major train firm of its contract last night after its boss was effectively sacked over a timetable meltdown.

Avanti West Coast said Phil Whittingham, the company’s six-figure managing director, would step down from September 15. 

It comes after the operator was forced to suspend fare sales and cancel thousands of tickets last month due to chronic staff shortages. 

Avanti West Coast (train pictured) said Phil Whittingham, the company's six-figure managing director, would step down from September 15

Avanti West Coast (train pictured) said Phil Whittingham, the company’s six-figure managing director, would step down from September 15

Sources said Mr Whittingham was pushed amid concerns at transport giant FirstGroup, which majority owns the operator.

Labour’s transport spokesman Louise Haigh led calls for Avanti to be stripped of its contract over the fiasco, saying: ‘This failing operator has caused travel misery for millions.’

Former transport minister Norman Baker said: ‘Urgent action needs to be taken to restore a proper service.’

But the Department for Transport last night said Avanti would not be stripped of its contract.

Avanti West Coast was forced to suspend fare sales and cancel thousands of tickets last month due to chronic staff shortages

Avanti West Coast was forced to suspend fare sales and cancel thousands of tickets last month due to chronic staff shortages

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