The Greater Manchester mayor has taken a swipe at Avanti West Coast for what he has described as "unacceptable" service.

Andy Burnham addressed the latest meeting of the Combined Authority (GMCA) in Manchester and highlighted that 27 trains were expected to be cancelled on Friday, 10 less than Thursday.

This comes the day after he called for the rail operator to scrap first class carriages on their trains until services improve.

Avanti, who run trains that travel between Manchester and London, recently announced it would cut the number of services it operates in December due to staff shortages.

This announcement came only weeks after they were awarded a nine-year contract by the government. 

At Manchester Town Hall, Mr Burnham took the chance to highlight the recent issues rail users were subjected to as recently as this week.

“There is one quite unfortunate and urgent item I have to bring to the CA’s attention, it is the performance of Avanti West cost,” Mr Burnham told the GMCA.

“(A total of) 27 services have been cancelled serving Piccadilly today and that number was 37 yesterday (Thursday). 

“Over the course of this week they have been operating at a reliability of 52 per cent. Over a quarter of trains have been delayed, severely delayed, or cancelled.

“Bear in mind that this is a time when many of our residents are looking to travel or go home for the Christmas break. It is simply unacceptable that we are yet again in this position where we cannot rely on a rail service between ourselves and the capital city.

“It is a message to the government and the train operator that what they are doing is way below what people should expect at this time of year.

"It is unfair and the reiteration of the call for trains to be declassified.”

Mr Burnham met with other northern leaders at a Transport for the North (TfN) board meeting on Thursday, December 14 where members discussed the operator’s recent performance.

They made an agreement to write to the transport secretary highlighting the "inadequate" and "unacceptable" level of service from Avanti. They also formally requested for trains to be declassified – which would see first class carriages being scrapped.

The meeting heard how many passengers were "crammed in carriages" whilst first class areas remained fairly empty.

Following the TfN meeting last Thursday, Lord McLoughlin Chair of Transport for the North, said: “There was a strong recommendation by leaders from across the North that the current level of service by Avanti is inadequate, and therefore we have proposed a solution for the Christmas period to remove First-Class carriages to ensure that the travelling public are put first.”

Responding, an Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “We have been seeing some short-notice cancellations on our network and would like to apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused as we know this is not good enough.

"These service changes are a result of resourcing challenges where we have seen a shortage of train crew due to historic leave agreements.

“We are working hard to make sure we can minimise these cancellations.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) says it will review any letter from Transport for the North.

A DfT spokesperson said: “Despite progress since last year, Avanti still needs to further improve and we continue to hold it to account for matters within its control.

“Train crew shortages, linked to train drivers on average £60,000 salaries refusing to work overtime, highlight the need for modernisation across the wider railway that is being resisted by unions.”

Avanti have been contacted for a comment in regard to Andy Burnham’s latest criticisms.