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Greater Manchester business leaders echo Burnham’s rail concerns in letter to transport secretary

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Business leaders from Greater Manchester have echoed the concerns of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and his London counterpart Sadiq Khan over the current state of train services between the region and the capital.

On August 10, Burnham, Khan, and Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig penned a letter to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, protesting over rail company Avanti West Coast’s decision to operate a reduced timetable between the two cities due to staff shortages and severely limit advance ticket sales “until further notice.” The letter described the situation as a “national outrage.”

Now, high powered business leaders from the region have also written to Shapps, and Avanti West Coast managing director Phil Whittingham, calling for action.

Signatories to the latest missive from within the media and tech sectors include the MD of Manchester Digital, CEO of Creative Concern and chair of Marketing Manchester.

The letter expresses “deep concern and frustration” at the situation, calling for “an urgent restoration of the full timetable.”

It goes on: “Avanti provides our city region’s only direct rail connection with the capital and, as you would expect, is therefore of great economic importance to Greater Manchester. We ask that you work to reach a resolution that provides Greater Manchester with the frequent and regular intercity rail service that its businesses and economy need to thrive in the shortest possible time.

“As business organisations, we stand ready to do whatever we can to help restore the service that we rely on to drive economic activity in both Greater Manchester and London.”

The full list of signatories to the letter are: Lou Cordwell (chair of Greater Manchester LEP), Clive Memmott (chief executive, GM Chamber of Commerce), Katie Gallagher (managing director of Manchester Digital), Emma Degg (chief executive of North West Business Leadership Team), Steven Underwood (chief executive of Peel Group and Peel L&P), Chris Oglesby (chief executive of Bruntwood), Paul Johnson (president of Manchester Law Society), Amanda Halford (senior vice president sales, service and commercial operations at Cytiva), Steve Connor (chief executive of Creative Concern), Lorna Fitzsimons (co-founder at The Pipeline), Sam Booth (chief executive at pro-manchester), Cindy Simmons (managing director at Manchester Publicity Association), Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell (president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester), Vanda Murray (chair of Marshalls plc), Justin Kyriakou (regional director North West at ICAEW), Chris Manka (North West region chair of the Federation of Small Businesses) and Mike Blackburn (chair of Marketing Manchester).

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