Friday 30 September 2016

Corbyn sat on train floor as a stunt, says railway firm

Dean Gray

Published 24/08/2016 | 02:30

CCTV footage of Jeremy Corbyn on the Virgin train. Photo: PA
CCTV footage of Jeremy Corbyn on the Virgin train. Photo: PA

A private railway company has attacked Jeremy Corbyn after he made a video to highlight overcrowding on their trains.

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Earlier this month, Mr Corbyn sat on the floor of a Virgin train to Newcastle to record a video, noting that "this is a problem that many passengers face every day".

Virgin Trains, which was recording Mr Corbyn and other passengers using CCTV cameras, has released still images that it says shows free seats on the train where the video was recorded.

Several pictures were released by the company. One appears to show Mr Corbyn walking past a carriage of seats with reservation tags on them. Others show Mr Corbyn returning to his seat in an area with some vacancies. Some passengers can be seen standing in the vestibule area near the seats.

However, Anthony Charles, the videojournalist who filmed the original video, said the CCTV footage came from after the video was shot and some passengers had got off the train.

He posted additional photos and videos of other passengers sitting on the floor and Mr Corbyn walking through the crowded train.

"Video footage of Corbyn sitting down is after he filmed video. And after people got off," he said.

Mr Corbyn did not claim that he was unable to get a seat at the time of recording the video.

He said in the recording: "This is a problem that many passengers face every day on the trains - commuters and long-distance travellers.

"Today this train is completely ram-packed. The staff on this train are absolutely brilliant, working really hard to help everybody. The reality is there's not enough trains, we need more of them, and they're also incredibly expensive. Isn't that a good case for public ownership?"

A Virgin Train spokesperson said: "Our people deliver first-rate customer service day after day and we'd like to thank Jeremy Corbyn for highlighting this with the media.

"He's also right to point out the need to introduce more trains on our route - that's why we're introducing a brand new fleet of 65 Azuma trains from 2018, which will increase seating capacity out of King's Cross by 28pc at peak times.

"But we have to take issue with the idea that Mr Corbyn wasn't able to be seated on the service, as this clearly wasn't the case. We'd encourage Jeremy to book ahead next time he travels with us, both to reserve a seat and to ensure he gets our lowest fares, and we look forward to welcoming him on-board again."

Mr Corbyn has long advocated the return of the railways to public ownership, while Virgin Trains has profited from privatisation.

Irish Independent

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