Following a statement on the Government’s decision to agree to a six-month contract extension to allow Avanti West Coast to deliver its improvement plan, Andrew Bridgen seeks assurances that services will not deteriorate again if the contract is extended beyond then.
The Minister says that he has given Avanti a six-month contract extension to allow it to deliver its improvement plan. What assurance can he give the House and commuters that services will not deteriorate again to their current, unacceptable levels if the Avanti contract is extended beyond then?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise that. As part of taking a longer-term decision, we would want to see how the improvement was sustainable—for example, as I have touched on already, by moving away from a reliance on rest-day working for train drivers as the core of delivering the service. We want to look—in the same way, by the way, that the OLR would have to look if it took over operations—at ensuring that any improvement is sustainable and provides a long-term basis of confidence for the service and particularly the communities that rely on it.