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Avanti drivers set for £100k salary despite delays and cancellations

Avanti West Coast train
Avanti West Coast train

Struggling rail operator Avanti West Coast has signed a rest-day deal with its train drivers that could take average yearly salaries to nearly £100,000.

The group, which runs routes on the west coast mainline between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh, will pay drivers £600 to work overtime, alongside the typical four day week.

Under previous arrangements, train drivers had received £125 and an hourly rate for working the extra day. Average salaries for the four-day week typically come in at around £70,000 per year.

The deal, first reported by The Sunday Times, was instantly accepted by the train drivers’ union Aslef and has been signed off by the Department for Transport (DfT).

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Transpennine Express, which was brought into government ownership last May because of soaring cancellations and delays, has also signed an overtime deal, otherwise known as a “rest day working” agreement, according to The Sunday Times.

Avanti believes an incremental return to rest day working will be helpful as it introduces new Hitach-manufactured trains to the West Coast Mainline.

The operator’s drivers will need to undergo 2,500 training days due to the rollout, taking them away from passenger services for around two weeks at a time, City A.M. understands.

In a statement, Avanti said: “We are pleased to reach a new agreement on rest day working, as other operators have done.

“It will help ensure our services are more reliable and resilient over time for our customers, while ensuring we continue training our drivers on our brand-new trains. We’re grateful to partners at ASLEF and the DFT for working with us to finalise this agreement.”

The deal comes as Avanti faces ongoing criticism for high cancellations and repeat disruption on its services. The operator was placed on two consecutive short-term contracts in 2022/23 that were aimed at helping it develop a recovery plan. It was handed its current nine-year contract in September.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper is facing calls from Northern leaders to strip the operator’s contract and bring it into public hands.

Transport for the North, which represents members across business, politics and transport, last week demanded action from the government, saying “a continuation of the current situation” would be “unacceptable.”

The DfT was approached for comment.