Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused the UK Government of rewarding failure following its decision to extend the Avanti West Coast contract for another six months.

The Department of Transport has said its contract will now run until 15 October, after it was due to finish at the end of this month.

The rail firm, which runs trains between London and Glasgow and Edinburgh including through Lockerbie and Carlisle, has been heavily criticised for its level of cancellations. The firm also came under fire in over the fact tickets were not made available to purchase until a few days in advance, and then often sold out, making travel planning hugely difficult.

Labour has repeatedly called for both Avanti West Coast and Transpennine Express to be stripped of their franchises.

Colin Smyth said: “This decision by the UK Government is shocking and simply rewards failure.

“Passengers from Lockerbie have been suffering terrible service for years thanks to the failed franchises from Avanti and Transpennine Express and they should have been removed at the end of this month.

“As it is, we will now have another six months of cancellations and delays from Avanti and it is not good enough. It does also raise the fear that the UK Government will also extend the Transpennine Express franchise.

“Passengers travelling from Lockerbie deserve better; they need local train services that they can rely on but until changes are made, this won’t, and can’t, happen under the companies who have failed so badly.”

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