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Train always rammed when you need it most? Corbyn was called a liar when he said the same thing. But now the footage is out…

Nowadays, it is fairly well established that if you get on a train at peak times, or you require trains for your daily commute, that you either book a seat well in advance. If you don’t, you face the likely prospect of standing. Standing back to back with other passengers, some listening to music too loud, some eating an obnoxiously fragrant meal, some just smelling obnoxious altogether. This has come to be a fact of life for many train users, and for as long as we can all remember there have been calls for more carriages. Now we each have our own train companies to have vendettas with. I will not disclose mine, but I will admit that it is not Virgin Trains. I simply have not travelled on them often enough. My only issue with Virgin is that I once paid for wifi on my travels, and was unable to load even the simplest of pages. Shame for a company who boasts their broadband to be unbeatable.

For those that remember, last year Jeremy Corbyn boarded a train from London to Newcastle. He claimed that during this journey, he and his film crew were unable to find seats and Corbyn was filmed sitting on the floor reading. This was quickly hit back with suggestions that this was a political stunt and that there were in fact free seats available on the train he was travelling on. The freelancer who filmed Corbyn during this journey, Yannis Mendez, felt that the straw that broke the camel’s back was a Tweet from Richard Branson, adding to the claims of free seats. He filed a formal request to have the CCTV footage released, but this took a total of 7 months to do. And as we’re all aware, in an age of instant information, Corbyn having his name cleared 7 months later can easily be a fruitless task. Despite this, the footage was released (although not all of it, due to “technical difficulties” according to Virgin, of course). The released footage eventually showed that Jeremy and his team were in fact telling the truth. The truth of the situation was that Corbyn and his team were offered a free upgrade to first class when he boarded, to which Corbyn declined. Then, after over two hours on the train, there were still passengers unable to find seating! By this point however the train staff had organised that some passengers were moved to first class, so that Corbyn and his party could have grouped seating together. The footage also cleared up claims of empty seats.

What this story raises for me is one that we all already know. Our trains are too packed on busy times, with no real complaints procedure that would make a difference. The irony is, the reaction that Mendez received from Branson is pretty much the same lack of faith I expect I would receive had I made a complaint of the same nature. People are now calling for Branson to make a public apology, so even though it’s taken 7 months, let’s hope Branson keeps up his company ethos of super-speed in his response. Otherwise, he may not have to lie about free seats on his trains…

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