Virgin Trains East Coast staff in one-day walkout

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The industrial action will see staff mount picket lines – but Virgin Trains says it will run a “normal and safe timetable”.

A 24-hour strike on Virgin Trains East Coast is going ahead today after talks failed to resolve a long-running row over jobs and conditions.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union said around 1,800 of its members are involved in the dispute, including train crew and a small number of drivers.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT will not sit back while nearly 200 members’ jobs are under threat and while conditions and safety are put at risk by a franchise which is clearly in financial trouble.

“We will also not tolerate the cavalier attitude to safety that is now on show as the company mobilises its scab army of managers.”

But Virgin Trains said the despite the walkout it had contingency plans in place to run a “normal and safe timetable” throughout the day.

It said in a statement: “Virgin Trains is making changes to customer-facing roles which will see a single person take responsibility for the customer experience on our trains.

“This will have no impact on safety, and will result in a better experience for customers.”

David Horne, managing director for Virgin Trains on the East Coast, added: “We have worked hard to ensure there are comprehensive contingency plans in place and I want to reassure our customers that our timetable will be unaffected.

“We’re extremely disappointed with the RMT’s decision to proceed with strike action when we have given assurances on each point raised by the union.

“On Wednesday, we agreed to the specific concessions set out by the RMT, but despite this they have decided to go ahead with today’s walkout.

“The changes we are making are part of the customer-centric revolution we have planned for the East Coast.”

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