Rail passengers face more disruption with latest strike action

Rail services will be disrupted on Thursday with the first of a series of fresh strikes in the bitter dispute over the role of guards on trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on South Western Railway (SWR) will walk out for 24 hours, with more stoppages due in the coming weeks.

The company said a reduced service will run on most of its network, with some routes not having any trains, including Salisbury to Bristol, Westbury to Yeovil Junction and Surbiton to Hampton Court.

A rail replacement bus service will run on some lines in Surrey and around Exeter.

The union accused SWR of failing to respond to calls for talks over the long-running row.

General secretary Mick Cash said: "That is no way to treat a serious dispute that will impact on huge numbers of passengers through into September and SWR need to get out of this bunker mentality.

"It is particularly galling as positive proposals the union put forward in earlier talks that could have formed the basis of an agreement were welcomed by the management side but were subsequently sabotaged as they were escalated up the SWR management structure.

"Our members are striking again to put public safety before private profits and it's about time SWR took note of what is going on elsewhere in the rail industry, and the settlements RMT has struck that underpin the guard guarantee, and started talking with us seriously around a similar package that puts safety, security and access to services top of the agenda."

Further 24-hour strikes will be held on July 28 and 31 and August 4, 11 and 18, and a 48-hour walkout from August 31.

The union recently agreed a deal with Greater Anglia over the role of guards, but is still embroiled in similar disputes with Southern, Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North as well as SWR.

The row over driver-only operation and the role of guards started more than two years ago on Southern.

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