Jeremy Corbyn claim Virgin train was ‘ram-packed’ backed by passengers

More pictures and footage on the events on the train have emerged

Jon Stone@joncstone
Wednesday 24 August 2016 15:05
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CCTV shows Jeremy Corbyn taking a seat on train after filming himself sitting on the floor

The row over whether Jeremy Corbyn had to sit on the floor of a Virgin train has taken a new twist after passengers on the service disputed the company’s version of events.

Earlier this month Mr Corbyn released a video of himself sitting on the floor of a Virgin East Coast train arguing that “this is a problem that many passengers face every day”.

The train company, however, has released CCTV stills showing Mr Corbyn finding a seat on the train, saying that it “clearly wasn’t the case” he could not find somewhere to sit. Though Mr Corbyn did not claim that there were no seats on the train, he said it was “ram-packed”.

Other people on the train have however come forward to say it was in fact very busy, at least at the start of the journey.

One passenger, Keren Harrison, posted a picture of herself on the train with Mr Corbyn and gave an account of events that contradicted the company’s version.

"I was on said train and it was very busy!" she said. "He got seat about 45 mins in when staff started shuffling people around!"

She added in another tweet that the train was "chock-a".

Separately, Charles Anthony, a Corbyn-supporting video journalist who shot the original film also released new footage and disputed the company’s account.

“Video footage of Corbyn sitting down is after he filmed video. And after people got off,” he said in a series of tweets.

He also posted new footage of Mr Corbyn walking through a busy train corridor and of other passengers seating on the floor during the same journey.

It is not clear where passengers might have had the opportunity to get off the train for this to be true. The first scheduled stop of the 11am departure from London King’s Cross to Newcastle is York, at 12.50pm and well after the timestamp of the CCTV footage.

Separately, The Guardian newspaper also reports that one passenger interviewed after Virgin’s claims were made said “there were people standing in all the corridors”.

“Says she was sat in corridor with her two kids near him,” a journalist at the newspaper reported.

The passenger was said to “100 per cent back” Mr Corbyn’s story.

A Virgin Trains 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 28 per cent 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 onboard again.”

A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn said: “When Jeremy boarded the train he was unable to find unreserved seats, so he sat with other passengers in the corridor who were also unable to find a seat.

"Later in the journey, seats became available after a family were upgraded to first class, and Jeremy and the team he was travelling with were offered the seats by a very helpful member of staff.

"Passengers across Britain will have been in similar situations on overcrowded, expensive trains. That is why our policy to bring the trains back into public ownership, as part of a plan to rebuild and transform Britain, is so popular with passengers and rail workers.”

Mr Corbyn said in his video: “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.

“This is a problem that many passengers face every day on the trains – commuters and long-distance travellers,”

“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?”

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