More travel disruption for rail passengers hit by strike
Rail passengers face a second day of travel disruption on Wednesday because of a continuing strike by workers in the bitter dispute over guards on trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union on South Western Railway have launched a five-day walkout, causing misery for tens of thousands of travellers, including commuters into London Waterloo station.
Buses will again replace trains on some routes, with up to half of SWR’s services affected by the industrial action.
There were chaotic scenes at stations on Tuesday, including Surbiton in south-west London, where passengers formed a huge queue just to get into the station.
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.”
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.
Passengers between Egham and Staines faced further delays because of a swan on the railway line.
A South Western Railway spokesman said: “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.
“Passengers are strongly advised to avoid busy peak periods and travel on earlier or later trains because of the reduction in services at key stations like Surbiton.
“We are looking to see if we can improve the number of services calling at Surbiton station in order to minimise further disruption during this strike action.”