The managing director of one of the rail companies embroiled in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions has stepped down, it was announced on Friday.
Phil Whittingham, managing director of Avanti West Coast, will leave his role from September 15 to “pursue other executive leadership opportunities”.
He transferred to Avanti West Coast, as managing director, from Virgin West Coast Trains Limited, following the rail franchise change process, after 23 years in various roles on the railway.
Phil leaves with the team ready for the challenges in delivering the future service requirements— Steve Montgomery, First Rail managing director
Steve Montgomery, First Rail managing director, said: “Having led the team through the challenges presented by the pandemic over the last two years and into the recovery period, Phil leaves with the team ready for the challenges in delivering the future service requirements.
“I would like to thank Phil and wish him well in the future.”
Avanti is one of the rail operators facing more strikes in the coming weeks and has been involved in a row over Sunday working by drivers.
A spokesman for the drivers union Aslef said: “The MD of Avanti West Coast has gone because he lied about unofficial action at the company.
“We look forward to working with a new MD who can, and will, deliver for passengers and staff.”
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “This failing operator has caused travel misery for millions.
“And rather than lift a finger to hold them to account, the transport secretary defended this abject failure, handed over taxpayers’ cash, and chose to blame workers instead.
“If the Government had any interest in doing their job, they would finally stand up for passengers, claw back taxpayers’ money for services that haven’t run, strip the operator of the contract and put in place an urgent plan to restore the timetable.”