South Western Railway strike: what you need to know
Train services in and out of Waterloo will be disrupted for all of December
Commuters faced disruption on Monday morning as South Western Railway’s (SWR) 27-day strike action began.
The walkout means that only about half of SWR’s usual train services will run, including those heading to and from London Waterloo, the country’s busiest station.
SWR said in a statement: “RMT [Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union] strike starts today and we will be running an amended timetable until the New Year. Peak services will be busier than normal and there may be queues at stations so please plan your journey in advance.”
Why is there a strike?
Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers are walking out over proposed changes to the role of train guards.
It is the latest in a series of industrial actions over the dispute, which has been raging for more than two years.
Mick Cash, the RMT’s general secretary, blamed SWR’s “wrecking strategy”. He said: “RMT is angry and frustrated that a set of proposals that would have guaranteed the safety critical role of the guard at the point of despatch, and which would have cost the company absolutely nothing, have been kicked back in our faces.
“The union remains available for talks and we have a deal to solve this dispute… The company should grab it with both hands.”
But SWR insists it has “done everything we can and more” to meet RMT’s demands, having promised a guard on every train and a “safety-critical role for that guard”.
How long will it last?
The strikes will affect travel until New Year’s Day, making them “the longest stretch of industrial action against a major rail operator in living memory”, says Sky News.
The strike won’t go ahead on 12 December, general election voting day, or on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when no trains are scheduled to run.
And although industrial action will not take place on 12 December, the amended timetable with fewer trains will still be in place on that day.
What services are affected?
SWR has warned commuters that only half of its services will run during the strike period, with trains to towns and cities such as Portsmouth, Reading and Southampton affected.
Services will finish for the day earlier than normal – at around 11pm – and buses will replace some routes.
The week beginning 23 December is likely to have a different timetable with services finishing earlier.