Traingate: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'sitting in empty seat' by Virgin after floor 'stunt'

Ewan Palmer
Jeremy Corbyn Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains has hit back at Jeremy Corbyn over claims he was forced to sit down on the floor on a "completely ram-packed" train, after CCTV footage revealed the Labour leader was able to take a seat. Corbyn was filmed on the floor on his journey to Newcastle on 11 August while criticising Britain's rail services.

In the video, published by The Guardian, Corbyn said: "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 the train are absolutely brilliant, working really hard to help everybody.

"The reality is there are not enough trains, we need more of them and they're also incredibly expensive. Isn't that a good case for public ownership?"

However, Virgin has now released CCTV images from inside the train carriage showing Corbyn and his team walking past "empty, unreserved seats" in coach H before continuing through the rest of the train to the far end to film the stunt.

Jeremy Corbyn Virgin Trains

Corbyn can then be seen walking back to coach H and sat down for the remainder of the journey. After the photo of Corbyn on the floor went viral, he was praised for reportedly refusing a first-class ticket and sitting on the floor instead.

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% 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."

Corbyn was travelling on the train on his way to take part in a Labour leadership debate with Owen Smith in Gateshead.

Jeremy Corbyn Virgin Trains

Corbyn's team have issued the following statement:

"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."

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