Rugby fans to suffer travel disruption amid fresh rail strike

Rugby fans will be caught up in travel disruption on Saturday as another strike in the bitter dispute over guards on trains disrupts services.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on South Western Railway (SWR) and Arriva Rail North (Northern) will walk out for 24 hours in ongoing industrial action which is causing travel misery for passengers.

Rugby fans travelling to Twickenham for England’s international game against South Africa were advised to allow extra time, especially those who live in the West of England.

SWR said it will run reduced services, with buses replacing trains on some routes including Salisbury to Exeter, Ascot to Aldershot and Surbiton to Guildford, while other areas will have no trains or replacement buses.

Engineering work will cause further disruption to some late night trains.

Further strikes are planned on November 17 and 24.

An SWR statement said: “We would like to make it completely clear that we will continue to roster a guard on all our trains, including our new suburban fleet to be introduced from late 2019 and that our future plans require more, not less guards.

“We have guaranteed to roster a guard with safety critical competencies on all our services.”

Northern said it expected to run around 30% of services, with replacement buses on some routes.

The strike – the 34th on Northern since the dispute flared – will hit football fans going to a number of games across Northern England.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members will be taking action again on both Northern and South Western Railway in the continuing fight for safety, security and access on our trains while the train companies preside over a surge in violence across their services.

“It is scandalous that while other train operators have been prepared to engage seriously with RMT on the crucial issue of a guaranteed second safety-critical member of staff on their services, Northern and SWR have dragged their heels and made a mockery of the talks process.

“It’s time for both these companies to get out of the bunker and start talking seriously and positively with the union on the issue of the guard guarantee instead of gambling with public safety as they pump up their profits.

“We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that these disputes are all about safety and passenger service on Britain’s violent and dangerous railways.”

The RMT has announced seven more strikes on Arriva Rail North on Saturdays until the end of the year.