Traingate CCTV analysis shows ’empty’ seats aren’t empty

So, it goes on.

Last night’s post on Virgin Trains’ claims about Jeremy Corbyn’s supposedly-staged ‘ram-packed’ video has already been the most-read ever published on this blog, the previous daily visit record being broken within the first few daylight hours of today.

Clearly there is a huge amount of interest among the British public as to the rights and wrongs of this issue and it’s great that word is getting out there to counter the corporate and media propaganda.

However, the BBC and many media outlets continue to run hourly coverage of the ‘dispute’ while omitting the abundant evidence from eye-witnesses (and this blog among others), creating – without question intentionally – the impression that Corbyn has misbehaved in some way. Grainy stills and short clips of CCTV footage are being run again and again, without any analysis, to accompany voice-overs that talk as if the claims he walked past empty seats is fact rather than claim or conjecture.

So, let’s do some analysis.

Video of Corbyn walking past unreserved seats appears to have been released to the media but not yet to be online (or at least I haven’t found it yet). Video from the carriage with reserved seats is more readily available but irrelevant even if some of them were empty – the seats were reserved and it doesn’t take much imagination to predict the furore and headlines if he had sat in a reserved seat whose occupant then turned up: “RED JED STOLE MY SEAT!!!!

So we’ll concentrate on the supposedly damning few seconds of footage BBC News is running, as well as a still from the same sequence that is being used (as one insistent numpty on Twitter kept tweeting to me as if it was proof final and positive) by the TV, online and print media to ‘show’ that Corbyn walked past empty, unreserved seats.

Here is that image:

JC012 - VTEC_10321 Camera 3_11-08-2016 10_10_15.54 (1)

Looks damning, right? But does it stand up? Video can be fleeting and hard to catch, while the still that is doing the rounds is just one image and could, by design or chance, give a misleading impression.

So the next few images show ’empty’ seats juxtaposed with  stills from the short video BBC News showed this evening. The first shows an apparently empty seat just inside the carriage on the left side from the CCTV viewpoint. Click the image for a larger view:


So, at least one seat appears empty on the media’s preferred CCTV still, but on the video footage its occupant moves into view – but so briefly that it would easily be missed when watched at normal speed. Are there others? Let’s see.


The seat behind the gentleman in a light shirt looks empty in Virgin’s preferred still, but as the video progresses, what looks like a child moves into view as the man in the backpack passes.


In the area of Virgin’s CCTV capture highlighted above, 3 seats look empty. As the lady with the black curly hair passes, you can clearly see that all 3 are occupied.

The image below is trickier to see as a static image, but the highlighted area definitely increases in size as the BBC video progresses, compared to Virgin’s still:


So someone is in the seat, moving around – probably a child or a short person, but still there.

So, in a 4 or 5-second video clip, no fewer than six ’empty’ seats are shown beyond question not to be empty.

Remember, this is footage shown by the BBC – from the same CCTV camera that was the source of Virgin’s now-infamous still. I have no special equipment beyond a smartphone and a laptop – yet I could identify these discrepancies easily.

Without question, it is not beyond the ability of BBC News – or of any of the other media using the ’empty seat still’ as proof, or of Virgin for that matter – to examine the footage closely and draw proper conclusions.

But then, I could be bothered to do it because I’m interested in the truth of the matter and not in creating a ‘row’ out of nothing to suit my own commercial or political agenda.

So I looked at the footage properly to see whether the evidence stands up. It doesn’t.

If 6 ’empty’ seats can turn out to be occupied that quickly, then Mr Corbyn is entitled to be believed that none of them were empty – and there is absolutely no evidence to the contrary.

Now, I can already hear those with a vested interest in bashing Corbyn (like the woeful Owen Smith, who’s destroyed what shreds of credibility he had left by revelling today in ‘Clearly Jeremy just sat on the floor when he didn’t need to’ interviews) saying, “Ah yes, but he’s already admitted there was an empty seat, because he said today he was looking for two so he could sit with his wife!”

To which the answer is simple. His wife was not on the floor with him.

So he found a single seat and, like any decent, able-bodied husband would, he made his wife sit in it while he went and sat on the floor.

Among other passengers doing the same, as we’ve already seen in my article last night.

On a train that was “ram-full”.


  1. So why did he not have his staff book a couple of seats for a journey he knew he was to make? Great PM material!!!!!

    1. Who says he knew he was going to be on that train? I’ve already shown him knowingly missing trains to stay back and talk to, for example, a disabled supporter. Seat reservations are not transferable – and I’m delighted Labour has a leader who prioritises people.

    2. Hi did have a seat booked on a train but he was delayed by talking to a disabled lady who was waiting to see him at the end of his rally. He missed his train. Why on earth would you assume his team didn’t have booked seats, really think about it.

  2. My issue with the footage is that Virgin said that he walked past empty unreserved seats. He DOES NOT walk past these seats, the footage is cut. Looks to me like they edited the footage from just before he was actually given seats 45 mins into the journey and tried to use it against him. FAIL!

    1. I had the same thought initially, but having looked at info on train formation and where coaches are at London end I believe now that if that was the case he would have been walking in other direction.

  3. He said he doesnt book all journeys in advance as it can get stressful trying to catch trains at set times,as meeting etc always run over,or things change.Also travelling up and down the country on a daily basis so needs some flexibility

  4. An important point is that this is I believe coach H. In London this would have been the first standard class coach he can walk through (after 3 x first class). Logic and experience tells me this would have filled very quickly if the train was even half full let alone ‘ram packed’ so least likely coach to have lots of space as picture implies.

    Note that he managed to get his seat in this coach after 45mins … presumably this was the most logical place to move others into first class (adjacent coach). AAn important point is that this is I believe coach H. In London this would have been the first standard class coach he can walk through (after 3 x first class). Logic and experience tells me this would have filled very quickly if the train was even half full let alone ‘ram packed’. Note that he managed to get his seat in this coach after 45mins … presumably this was the most logical place to move others into first (adjacent coach). All of this adds credence to Corbyns’s version IMHO.

    Info. on coaches came from report in independent. Detail on train consist / formation etc from Virgin website on East Coast Mailin seat maps. If I made an errorin my short analysis it is an honest one – I am not a train enthusiast.

    All of this adds credence to Corbyns’s version IMHO.

    Info. on coaches came from report in independent. Detail on train consist / formation etc from Virgin website on East Coast Mailin seat maps. If I made an errorin my short analysis it is an honest one – I am not a train enthusiast.

    1. I don’t know why the text got humbled here. I hope readers can unjumble it and review the point.

    2. What has always amazed me is that why a train with 8 carriages has 3 1st Class compartments. Ivarably they are only 1/3 full so why so many? Scamming I suppose.

  5. Did my own little bit of research on one of the other photos but sadly can’t upload it here so hope the link below works. There are clearly people in most of the seats of the carriage with the reserved cards there – the luggage racks are full and you can make out the tops of heads and bits of shoulder in seats that initially look empty.

    The trick here is a psychological one that the media and politicians are very well aware of – the mind tricks the eyes into seeing what you expect. Therefore, you read and hear the words, ’empty seats’ and you expect to see empty seats and so are not surprised to see them – when a closer look reveals the reality.


  6. I’ve seem so much confirmation from travellers on that train that it was packed with lots of people standing. Their accounts and pics are irrefutable evidence that Corbyn was telling the truth. Have the doubters never been on a train before? Even IF there were single seats available when he boarded, he wanted 2 seats together for him and his wife so he had to make his way through the train to find them. Once it filled up it and people were standing in the aisles would be obvious to anyone that there weren’t even any single seats left (otherwise why would anyone be standing, right?), so nobody in their right mind would go back down a train to check! This is clearly a ridiculous smear attempt. It’s outrageous.

  7. You people need to get over yourselves. Theres real issues much bigger than wether he could actually sit on the train or not. Which by the way, he’s the only person in parliment who’s trying to fix them.

    1. Well, not the only one. He has a team of very good MPs helping him. But you’re missing the point – the traingate nonsense is an attack on his integrity to stop him from raising all the big issues and getting into power to deal with them. So the articles showing his integrity is 100% intact are doing an important job in countering media/chickencoup smears. Or at least we should be hoping so.

  8. The attacks on Jeremy Corbyn never aim at what it is that the PLP and Tories really don’t like about him, but at the things that the public do like. So, the public think that 30 years of activism and honest dealing make him believable: so attack his truthfulness any way you can. Mr Corbyn has a long-standing reputation as egalitarian and cooperative, supporting the Jewish and Muslim communities, among others, both ethnic and cultural. So, attack him as an anti-Semite, at once, to undermine that! He is a plain speaker who doesn’t use weasel-words, insider privilege and tricks: suggest he’s too thick. Thirty years of election and re-election in his constituency? Quick, suggest the constituency is full of affluent, cut-off metropolitan types. No truth in any of our attacks? Never mind. We’re pushing all the right buttons on the public and we’re stopping anyone getting into discussions about what Corbyn actually proposes and wants people to understand and support. That’s what really counts.

  9. Idiots. I never thought I’d see Brits coming up with drivel like the yank 9/11 troofers or Obama birthers. Well done. Global laughing stock. Jezza has admitted there were seats – his current story is that he wanted one for him and his missus. {Mary Magdalene?} But no, we have posts here showing why Jez must have been wrong to see these seats he said he saw.

    The train was going the different direction. It’s been edited.

    Or best. He was booked on a train with a seat, but he saw a leper and chose to miss the train to heal the leper wit his holy touch.

    Jesus Christ. Sorry, I shouldn’t take Jeremy’s name in vain and he is verily the true messiah.

    I never thought I see a personality cult in the UK. Wow – this is what one looks like. Can you not see what a joke you look like to the general public?

    1. Well done, you’ve just done the Owen Smith camp proud – and clearly didn’t bother to read the article, since the 2-seat idea is addressed. Looking at video to see whether seats are occupied is hardly a radical idea. Bravo.

    2. You are spectacularly askew in your analysis, Rory. So far from being a personality cult, Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are followers of an idea: socialism. Corbyn is admired because he has been an active socialist for many years, despite all Labour’s attempts to move away from its founding philosophy, but if Corbyn were to retire tomorrow, he could be replaced by any of literally hundreds, who might not have the experience and credentials, but would be following the same principles and could legitimately command the same support.

      That, of course, is what is so frightening to Tory-Lite and other rightist politicians. The left has found a voice and a figurehead. But it remains the idea that leads.

  10. Went from Peterborough to Edinburugh this and last year, last year had to stand three and a half hours, this year over two and a half hours as there were no unreserved seats, i am 57, and paid last year £114 for a return, and this year £120 something, not good and it was Virgin

  11. I might be assuming far too much, into why #Virgin decided to attack Jeremy #Corbyn. But is for the re-nationalisation of the #NHS, I believe? So the article below, about Virgin taking over NHS services, might explain why they are doing their best to dis-credit him. The article goes on about Virgin’s tax-haven status, and as I have pointed out before, Branson is a tax-exile: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/21/ow-lucrative–deals-go-to-firms-that-use-tax-havens.

  12. We are Momentum and we have had enough og the 1%,we wouldn’t mind if they would just stop attacking the poorest and most vulnerable but they a seem to have an almost psychotic need to do so.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: