Virgin Trains welcomes decision to suspend industrial action

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Virgin Trains has welcomed the decision by The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) to suspend industrial action and return to the table for further discussions.

The union suspended the walk-outs today after Virgin Trains repeated its assurances to the union - including one of no compulsory redundancies - as part of changes designed to improve customer experience.

Virgin Trains had promised a full timetable during the three 24-hour stoppages and overtime ban over the bank holiday weekend planned for the east coast route in August.

David Horne, Virgin Trains’ managing director on the east coast route, said: “We’re pleased that the RMT has agreed to suspend industrial action and continue talks. We had put in place detailed contingency plans which would have seen our timetable run as normal, nevertheless this news will be welcomed by our customers and people.

“We’re making exciting changes on the east coast as part of the customer-centric revolution which has seen us embark on a £140million investment programme in our trains and stations.

“We want a service that focuses firmly on the customer and look forward to discussing these further with representatives of the RMT.”

Since taking over the east coast franchise in 2015, Virgin Trains has embarked on an ambitious programme to completely refresh its train interiors. In two years it is planning to introduce a new fleet of faster, greener, more comfortable Azuma trains.

Aligned with this investment, Virgin Trains is making changes to customer-facing roles which will help deliver clearer lines of responsibility for the customer experience on our trains. This will have no impact on safety, and will result in a better experience for customers.

Virgin Trains has given assurances on each point raised by the union at the start of the dispute – such as ruling out any compulsory redundancies as a result of the changes.