A 24-hour strike on Virgin Trains East Coast kicked-off in the early hours of this morning as part of a long-running dispute over jobs.
The rail franchise said that it plans to run a normal service despite the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union saying that around 1,800 of its members would be taking action.
“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 unaffected during these walk-outs, as well as during any subsequent strikes by the RMT," said Virgin Trains' managing director David Horne.
The dispute relates to Virgin's plans to make changes to customer-facing roles. It wants to make a single person responsible for customer service and said that it would have no impact on safety. The franchise has ruled out any compulsory redundancies as part of the changes.
But the the general secretary of the RMT, Mick Cash, claimed that changes would impact jobs.
"The RMT will not sit back while nearly 200 members' jobs are under threat and while conditions and safety are put at risk by a franchise which is clearly in financial trouble," he said.
He also took aim at the staff that would be drafted in to ensure that Virgin could run a normal service.
"We will also not tolerate the cavalier attitude to safety that is now on show as the company mobilises its scab army of managers."
Nevertheless, with train services seemingly operating to plan, Horne said those engaging in industrial action were the ones that would miss out.
"With our guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies, no impact on safety and a full timetable in place during the walk-outs, this strike will cost RMT members pay for no reason, and we urge the union to rejoin us around the negotiating table,” he said.