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Strikes to hit South Western Railway

Written by: Emma Lunn
Staff will walk out for a total of 27 days during December and January after talks fail.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said its members at South Western Railway (SWR) will walk out in a long-running dispute over guards on trains.

Commuters and shoppers will be hit by the industrial action that will take place from 00.01 on Monday 2 December until 23.59 on Wednesday 11 December; from 00.01 on Friday 13 December until 23.59 on Tuesday 24 December; and from 00:01 on Friday 27 December 2019 until 23:59 on Wednesday 1 January.

The only respite will be on General Election day – Thursday 12 December – and on Christmas Day and Boxing Day when very few trains run anyway.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “RMT has attended discussions under the auspices of ACAS for the past two days to discuss the issues in dispute. No proposals that would enable the development of a resolution to the dispute have been put forward by SWR.

“Throughout these ‎talks SWR have not shown any intention of moving the issues at the heart of the dispute forwards despite verbal assurances in earlier discussions. It has become increasingly clear that they are not interested in reaching a settlement at this time.

“As a result of the company attitude all planned action remains on and the union is committed to ensuring the safest possible method of operation. RMT will remain available for discussions with the company at any time.”

South Western Railway said the strikes were “unnecessary”. The train company said it would do everything possible to keep customers moving if the strikes went ahead and that it will publish revised timetables early next week.

Andy Mellors, managing director of South Western Railway, said: “”We promise that there will always be a guard on our trains. We also promise our guards will maintain a safety critical role on our trains. We believe that these promises deliver what the RMT has been asking for, so these strikes are unnecessary.

“All we’re asking is that guards work with us to provide the modern, efficient train service customers need and want by bringing in new trains which could mean over 10 million more passenger journeys arrive on time in peak hours every year.”

South Western Railway said it expected to be running more than half of its normal Monday to Friday services, prioritising capacity and providing a similar number of peak services to previous strikes. But it warned that services will be busier than usual during the strike action, and there would be rail replacement bus services in some places. Some tickets will be accepted on other rail and bus networks.

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