Visit 'not essential' says union

Sleeper boss Soames under fire over Scottish trip

New Sleeper tested

Serco operates the Anglo-Scottish service

Caledonian Sleeper boss Rupert Soames has been criticise by a rail union for travelling from England to Scotland despite the lockdown ban.

The company’s operator Serco said Mr Soames, a grandson of wartime leader Winston Churchill, was making “essential” visits to frontline staff.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) disputed that it was essential and described the two-day trip as “absolutely outrageous”.

Serco, which has suffered a series of service disruptions since introducing new overnight trains last year, said Mr Soames “fiercely defends his decision to show solidarity with front-line workers and believes that hiding at home while others are expected to work in trains, prisons and hospitals is not an appropriate style of leadership.”

But RMT Scotland Scotland organiser Mick Hogg told The Scotsman: “There are other managerial colleagues who could deal with that.

“Clearly, he has not been listening and he seems oblivious to the guidance. Does he think because he is a senior person in business it is ok for him to travel?”

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The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, said: “The Scottish Government advice is absolutely clear – do not travel unless your journey is essential.”

Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Colin Smyth said: “Those who work on our buses, trains and ferries have been heroic in keeping Scotland moving.

“But there is a big difference between the crucial role a train driver plays ensuring their fellow key worker gets to work and a chief executive touring the country.

“I’m not sure what Rupert Soames will have learned on his visits that he couldn’t have done by speaking to front-line staff virtually.

“This incident seems to highlight the confusion caused by the UK Government’s message that people should get back to work.”

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