Rail jobs axed 'to fund first-class perks'

A RAIL FIRM is cutting scores of jobs to pay for free travel perks for first-class passengers, a leading union claims.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association said East Coast is cutting food trolleys in standard class as well as travel centre staff to give free alcohol and sandwiches to first-class passengers from March.

More than 100 jobs will be cut on the London to Aberdeen route, around 10 per cent of all on-board, platform and travel centre posts, said the union.

General secretary Gerry Doherty said: "I know that Edwardian

dramas like Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs are all

the rage but I never thought they would be used by a railway company as a basis for its industrial relations policy in this day and age.

"Here we are in the 21st century with a company running Toffs Specials with standard-class passengers having their food trolleys scrapped altogether while first-class passengers can drink as much beer and sandwiches as they want. It is an insult to both hard-working staff and loyal passengers. Ministers should stop it at once."

The union said it would make more sense to fully restore the first-class dining cars run by the previous operator, GNER, which it believed would encourage first-class travel and create extra catering jobs.

An East Coast spokesman said: "In response to customer demand, East Coast is planning to introduce a complimentary at-seat service for first-class passengers from May 2011, which will include meals and drinks served to customers in a sensible and controlled manner.

"It will help to protect on-board catering and safeguard jobs by attracting more customers and a trade-up from standard class, and we are planning to increase the number of jobs on board our trains."

East Coast said it was creating jobs, not cutting them, stressing there would be no compulsory redundancies associated with its changes.