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Red faced Virgin bosses send Labour down wrong track

13 September 2013

"Oh Mr Porter, what can I do? I wanted to go the Labour Party conference in Brighton but I ended up in Crewe."

Virgin Rail boss Sir Richard Branson was left red faced after his staff were told to be on their toes to look after Labour politicians travelling to their conference next weekend in Manchester.

The only problem is that Labour is holding its conference more than 200 miles away in the southern seaside town of Brighton.

And things went from bad to worse. Not only did Virgin get the wrong town, they got their dates wrong as well, claiming the four day conference from Sep 22 to Sep 25 would last eleven days from Sep 22 to October 2 when the Tories are actually then holding their conference in Manchester.

The "be on your best behaviour" advice was sent out by Phillipa Richardson, communications manager, to all staff this week in a message headed:

Lib Dems, Glasgow 14th-18th September, Labour, Manchester, Sep 22-October 2.

She told them:"There will be many politicians and VIPs travelling around these dates with the highest numbers likely to be on the Sundays and Mondays."

She urges them to "continue to give the excellent service" they provide on a regular basis but ends with a message to alert the press office if they spot any unauthorised film crews at stations.

"Is this anyway to run a railway?" asked TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes. "If they don't know their North from their South, it doesn't give you much confidence when travelling long distance by Virgin."

He also questioned the rail firm which is offering discounted fares to delegates who are travelling to Glasgow this weekend for the Lib Dem conference and Tories travelling to Manchester for their conference in a fortnight.

"We cannot find any discounts being offered by Virgin to Labour delegates travelling to Brighton from Scotland and the North. This may be because they have made another blunder and simply got the wrong town again.

"I hope this is the case and not the fact that Virgin is trying to cosy up to the Tory/Lib Dem coalition."

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