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  1. ITV Report

Rail company defends Southern executive taking up two first class seats on busy train

A Southern Rail boss was pictured taking up two first class seats on a busy train after stopping economy passengers using the carriage.

Govia Thameslink’s Head of Operations Mark Boon Credit: Emma FitzPatrick/SWNS

Emma Fitzpatrick says Mark Boon, Operations Director of parent company Govia, told passengers to stay out of the carriage on a "late and very packed" service.

He then placed his bag on the empty seat beside him while customers had to squeeze into the doorway and adjoining carriage.

The image has sparked outrage on social media among Southern Rail passengers who have endured months of delays amid strikes by staff.

Several people also questioned Boon's authority to tell passengers not to sit in first class.

Mark Boon is Head of Network Operations at Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern, and the Gatwick Express.

He was crowned 'Customer Service Manager of the Year' while working for South West Trains in 2015.

Within 24 hours of sharing the photo, Emma's Tweet had been shared hundreds of times - with plenty of outraged Twitter users sharing their angry thoughts.

Passengers need a first class ticket to travel in first class and there were other people with first class tickets in this compartment.

This was an 11am off-peak service running just six minutes late and, while the front coaches were busy, there were seats and space in the rear coaches, as Mr Boon explained.

– Govia Thameslink Railway