South Western strikes: Commuters queue round block for second day running


London rail passengers were left queuing round the block for a second day running as rail strikes continued to cause travel disruption.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on South Western Railway have launched a five-day walkout in a bitter dispute over guards on trains, causing misery for tens of thousands of travellers.

Commuters at East Putney station in south-west London were among those worst affected on Wednesday, with queues down the street due to a combination of the strikes and tube outages.

Local MP Justine Greening was among those outside the station, tweeting: “.@TfL and @MayorofLondon – this morning there are no tubes from East Putney station and no @SW_Railway trains – it’s a nightmare for my community to get to work. It’s totally unacceptable for London’s transport system.”

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There were also chaotic scenes at stations on Tuesday, including Surbiton in south-west London, where passengers formed a huge queue just to get into the station.

Some passengers at Surbiton said they were told to return hours later on Tuesday because so many people were trying to get into the station.

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Passengers between Egham and Staines then faced further delays because of a swan on the railway line.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash, who joined a picket line at Waterloo on Tuesday, said union members were “solidly supporting” the strike.

He added: “RMT has campaigned relentlessly for the principle of putting safety on the railway first and the current stalemate over the safety-critical role of the guard on SWR trains cannot be allowed to drag on any longer.

“Our members have been left with no choice but to go ahead with strike action throughout this week. They are angry and frustrated that despite suspending action in good faith, and entering into talks in a positive and constructive manner, South Western Railway have dragged their heels and failed to bolt down an agreement that matches up to our expectations on the guard guarantee.

“We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that this dispute is all about safety, access and passenger service on Britain’s increasingly violent and dangerous railways.”

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Buses will again replace trains on some routes today, with up to half of SWR’s services affected by the industrial action.

A South Western Railway spokesman said on Tuesday: “We are sorry that customers faced long queues at Surbiton station.

“While we are doing all we can to keep passengers moving during this unnecessary industrial action, Surbiton station is one of our busiest stations and we need to keep passengers safe by controlling access to the platforms.”