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CCTV puts Jeremy Corbyn in hotseat over 'packed trains' claim

By Neil Lancefield

CCTV images have been released appearing to show Jeremy Corbyn walking past empty unreserved train seats before he was filmed sitting on the floor complaining about "ram-packed" carriages.

The Labour leader was travelling on the three-hour 11am Virgin Trains service from London King's Cross to Newcastle on August 11.

A video emerged last week that showed him sitting on the floor and describing a lack of seats as "a problem that many passengers face every day".

He then called for public ownership of the railways.

But Virgin Trains released images which appear to show Mr Corbyn and his team walking past empty unreserved and reserved seats at 11.07am.

He recorded his video message on the floor around 30 minutes into the journey before finding an unreserved seat at 11.43am with the help of the on board staff, Virgin Trains said. Billionaire Sir Richard Branson, who co-owns the train operator with Stagecoach, posted a link to the CCTV images on his Twitter account and wrote that Mr Corbyn "walked past empty unreserved seats".

A spokesman for Virgin Trains said: "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."

Mr Corbyn was on his way to debate with Owen Smith in a Labour leadership hustings in Gateshead.

A spokesman for his campaign said: "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."

In response to Mr Corbyn's statement, Virgin said: "We're a bit puzzled why Jeremy couldn't find unreserved seats when he boarded the train - they're right next to him as the photo shows."

The company confirmed that two passengers were moved to first class so that Mr Corbyn could sit next to his aide.

During the video in which Mr Corbyn is sitting on the floor, he 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's not enough trains - we need more of them - and they're also incredibly expensive.

"Isn't that a good case for public ownership?"

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