Virgin Trains East Cast could be the latest rail franchise in England to be hit by strikes after RMT Union members on the network voted for a walkout. The union said 84% of those balloted backed strike action, while 90% voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike.
There is currently no strike date from the union as the result, from a 62% turnout, will now be considered by the RMT's executive, the union's ruling body.
The RMT insisted that the dispute is over jobs and work conditions, including the future of guards on Virgin Trains East Coast and rates of remuneration.
"RMT will not sit back while nearly 200 members' jobs are under threat and while conditions and safety are put at risk by a franchise which is clearly in financial trouble," said Mick Cash, the general secretary of the RMT.
"RMT is aware that VTEC management are putting out regular propaganda messages to their employees, to justify the company's attempts to attack job security, terms and conditions of employment and current working practices. In response to company propaganda, RMT's view is clear.
"Long-standing agreements between our two organisations dictate that the company must negotiate with RMT, as a recognised trade union to those agreements, yet the company say these changes are a consultative process. That is simply not true. Any changes to staff terms and conditions are negotiable matters.
"The company have chosen to treat the negotiations as a game thus far, merely going through the motions of pretending they did not yet know what their plans entailed. To behave like that is to treat the union and its members with pure contempt."
"Our members will not pay the price for a crisis cooked up in the Virgin/Stagecoach boardroom. We will now be considering the massive mandate for action delivered by our members in this ballot and the union remains available for serious talks."
Virgin Trains has told its customers that it will run a full timetable during any RMT strike action. David Horne, managing director for Virgin Trains on the east coast, said: "We have worked hard to ensure there are comprehensive contingency plans in place and I want to reassure our customers that the timetable will be unaffected, should any strike go ahead.
"The changes we are making are part of the customer-centric revolution we have planned for the east coast.
"We're already half-way through our complete refresh of our trains with all new interiors being rolled out, and in two years will have our brand-new Azuma trains coming into service. Alongside more modern trains, we want a modern customer service proposition - one that focuses firmly on the customer.
"With our guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies, no impact on safety and a full timetable in place during any action, we urge the RMT not to call a strike which will cost its members pay for no reason, and to re-join us around the negotiating table."
The dispute comes as RMT members on Southern Rail strike for five days between 8 and 12 August. The walkout, over the proposed changes to guards on the franchise, has hit tens of thousands of commuters.
The union plans to protest outside the Department for Transport's London headquarters tomorrow after blaming the government for derailing peace talks with Southern operator Govia Thameslink Railway.