Avanti to pay train drivers £600 a shift for overtime

Avanti West Coast train
Avanti West Coast train

Train drivers at Avanti West Coast will see their fee for an overtime shift increase by 380% following a deal between the company and union Aslef.

Avanti said it hoped offering more attractive terms to its drivers to work extra shifts would make its services "more reliable and resilient".

The company has faced heavy criticism in recent years over cancellations, delays and poor service.

Drivers will get £600 for a shift, up from £125, in addition to their salary.

The deal was struck on Thursday and will come into force on 29 March, remaining in place for 12 months, the BBC has been told.

The Sunday Times, which first reported the story, suggested some drivers could enjoy a salary of up to £100,000 a year, but neither Aslef nor Avanti were able to confirm these figures.

Last year Avanti was offered a new contract for the West Coast Main Line, which runs between London Euston and Glasgow Central, with branches to Birmingham, North Wales, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh.

A spokesperson for Avanti said the deal would "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".

But the company has faced criticism over its performance, with calls for its contract to be scrapped last week.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said Avanti did not employ enough drivers to offer the service it advertises.

"The company approached us with an offer and we accepted," he added.

In parliament last week, rail minister Huw Merriman said the government would not scrap Avanti's contract to run the West Coast Main Line.

"There are issues that will remain regardless of who the operator is, and it is essential to get underneath the bonnet, look at the issues and fix those rather than what's on the side of the car," he said.

The settlement is separate to the wider dispute between Aslef and most of England's rail companies over train drivers' pay and working conditions.

Some 14 one-day strikes have been called during the 20-month dispute and members at 16 operators will stage further rolling one-day walk outs between 5 and 8 April, along with a six-day overtime ban.

In 2021, the median salary for train drivers was £59,189 per year.