Jeremy Corbyn turns down first class upgrade as he sits on the floor during three-hour train journey

Posted On: 
16th August 2016

Jeremy Corbyn sat on the floor of a packed commuter train from London to Newcastle last week while travelling to a Labour leadership hustings.

Jeremy Corbyn sits on the floor as he travels by train to Gateshead
Guardian Video

The Labour leader was filmed among 20 other seatless commuters on a “ram-packed” three-hour journey to Gateshead last Thursday, turning down the opportunity to upgrade his ticket to first class.

Freelance film maker Yannis Mendez, who has been following the MP during his leadership campaign, captured the footage.

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Mr Corbyn used the experience as evidence in favour of taking Britain’s railways back into public ownership.

Labour MPs opposed to Mr Corbyn's leadership tonight denounced it as a "PR stunt".

Speaking directly to the camera, Mr Corbyn said: “This is a problem that many passengers face every day, commuters and long-distance travellers. Today this train is completely ram-packed. The staff are absolutely brilliant, working really hard to help everybody.

“The reality is there are not enough trains, we need more of them – and they’re also incredibly expensive.”

He added: “Is it fair that I should upgrade my ticket whilst others who might not be able to afford such a luxury should have to sit on the floor? It’s their money I would be spending after all.”

Mr Corbyn went head-to-head in the second leadership hustings with Owen Smith upon arriving in Gateshead.

Today the Labour leader argued bringing the rail networks back under public ownership would “fix the rail crisis”, as it was confirmed fares are to go up again in January.

It came after the Office for National Statistics confirmed that RPI inflation for July - the benchmark for regulated rail fare hikes - was 1.9%.

Mr Corbyn cited research by the Trades Union Congress which suggests nationalised rail would lower regulated fares by as much as 10% and release cash to improve services.


Tom Blenkinsop, the Labour MP for Middlesborough South and East Cleveland, suggested Mr Corbyn's experience on the train had been staged for the cameras.

"I have to make a similar journey every week and I certainly don't paint myself as some kind of martyr for the cause," he told PoliticsHome.

"Why is he sitting on the floor when he has an office full of staff who could have booked him a seat, unless he was doing it for PR purposes."

One Labour MP told PoliticsHome: "This latest Saint Jeremy selfless, humble and kind-hearted piece to camera would make Mother Theresa blush."