Follow Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains confirms it will run majority of services during unwarranted union strike action on the west coast

Press Release   •   Nov 29, 2017 16:02 GMT

  • Virgin Trains has offered significantly above-inflation pay rise, which the RMT has rejected
  • RMT attempts to inflict damage and disrupt passengers’ travel plans with strike dates announced for 15th and 22nd December and 5th, 8th, 26th and 29th January
  • Virgin Trains confirms that the majority of west coast services will run thanks to detailed contingency plans

Virgin Trains has confirmed that it will run the majority of its west coast services during industrial action by the RMT. Announcing its commitment to keep customers moving over the festive season, the train operator reassured customers that they will still be able to travel on the strike dates announced by the RMT.

Phil Whittingham, Managing Director for Virgin Trains on the west coast, said: “The RMT leadership is attempting to cause disruption when many will want to travel by train to spend time with loved ones. We have explored a generous 3.6% pay increase, however the trade union’s leadership is insisting on 4%, double the two percent average increase seen across the UK this year. We know how important it is for friends and families to get together over the festive season, so we will keep the majority of our trains running with fully-trained staff onboard and at stations. We remain open to continuing talks with the RMT.”

The commitment follows RMT’s announcement that its leadership has rejected a 3.2% pay deal first offered by Virgin Trains in April 2017. Since then, in a bid to agree a deal, Virgin Trains has informally offered a 3.6% pay increase for 2017/18 backdated to April 2017, and a deal for the following year of RPI (Jan 2018) +0.2%. This increased offer is in return for the greater security a two-year deal provides for our customers.

The offer has been rejected by the RMT leadership which is insisting on a 4% increase for this year, followed by an increase the following year of RPI +0.25%. Any informal offer needs approval by the Department for Transport before being agreed.

Provisional estimates from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2017, the average (median) pay increase for full-time workers was 2%. In agreement with RMT and TSSA, Virgin Trains has traditionally linked annual pay awards to the January RPI figure (2.6% in Jan 2017), and has consistently paid its staff above RPI.

Customers take over 37m journeys on Virgin Trains west coast route every year, which serves 49 stations between London and Glasgow, including key economic centres like Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

Virgin Trains services on the east coast are not affected.

About Virgin Trains:

Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.

The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.

On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested over £40m in our existing fleet, including £21m refurbishing the interiors and £16m towards improving the engines of our trains. Customers can now benefit from 42 additional services between Edinburgh and London every week, and an extra 22 Saturday services between Leeds and London – a total of 1.74 million additional seats since May 2016. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.

The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.

Visit the Virgin Trains Media Room - virgintrains.co.uk/about/media-room - for the latest news, images and videos. Subscribe here for regular news from Virgin Trains.

Press Office: 0845 000 3333.