VERMIN have infested onboard kitchens on Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) franchise, sensational pictures revealed yesterday.
Rail union RMT said droppings found by staff on Virgin carriages were evidence of a “rodent scandal” and a failure of the company’s “duty of care.”
Union reps ratted on bosses amid a strike ballot in the company, which has been accused of seeking to impose a “two-tier” workforce.
Ballot papers are being sent out today after bosses imposed a pay offer that staff previously rejected.
The union said it had put the company on notice over the health risks posed to both passengers and staff by the infestation.
“It is frankly appalling that VTEC, an alliance of Stagecoach and Virgin, have allowed this rodent scandal to fester on their trains regardless of the risks to staff and passengers alike from the exposure to these droppings and the obvious health consequences,” said RMT general secretary Mick Cash.
“Passengers paying through the nose to travel on these trains will also be rightly angry to hear about VTEC’s shocking attitude to hygiene and health and safety.
“RMT wants action and we want it now.”
Earlier this week Stagecoach, which owns a majority stake in the firm, refused to rule out bidding again for the East Coast franchise, despite being bailed out by the government on its current deal.
The transport giant’s share price surged as its profits rose by 8 per cent, but the company’s contract for the mainline is to be ended three years early after it complained it was proving too expensive to run.
“This franchise is out of control,” Mr Cash said. “Only last week VTEC were given what amounts to a taxpayer-funded bail-out of £2 billion by the government while at the same time they have forced a major dispute with RMT through their sneering attitude to their staff over pay and conditions.”
A VTEC spokesman said: “This was an isolated incident which we believe was caused by a supplier. As soon as we became aware of this, we quickly acted to isolate the affected areas. These areas were then thoroughly cleaned before being put back into use.”