Near normal train service promised during strike action

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Virgin Trains is reassuring customers that it will run a near normal timetable during the industrial action announced by the RMT. The union says its members will walk-out for 48 hours on April 28 and 29 on Virgin Trains east coast route.

However, Virgin Trains’ detailed contingency plans mean a near normal timetable will run.

Virgin Trains has made changes to customer-facing roles on board which see a single person take responsibility for the customer experience on our trains, supported by a team. This will mean a better experience for customers. It also has zero impact on safety. We have repeatedly assured the RMT that the safety critical role of the guard will remain on board, with the new Train Manager role taking responsibility.

Virgin Trains has given assurances on each point raised by the union at the start of the dispute in May 2016 – such as ruling out any compulsory redundancies as a result of the changes. The RMT has already held a futile 24hr walkout on this issue on October 3, 2016 – during which Virgin Trains ran a full timetable.

David Horne, Managing Director for Virgin Trains on the east coast said: “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 almost completely unaffected during this walk-out, as well as during any subsequent strikes by the RMT. Passengers can book and plan their journeys as normal and with confidence.

“The changes we have made are part of the customer-centric revolution that’s underway on the east coast. We’ve already completely refreshed our entire fleet of trains with all new interiors, and next year we will have our ground-breaking Azuma trains coming into service. Alongside more modern trains, we want a modern customer service proposition – one that focuses firmly on the customer.

“The on-board changes came into force on March 31st 2017. Last week – the first full week since the changes – saw us achieve our second highest customer satisfaction score since taking over the franchise, so we are confident the changes are benefitting customers.

“With our guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies, no impact on safety and a near normal timetable in place during the walk-outs, this pointless strike will cost RMT members pay for no reason, and we urge the union to rejoin us for further discussions.”

There is no industrial action planned for Virgin Trains on the west coast.