South Western Railway workers will go on strike for 27 days before the end of the year in a long-running dispute over guards on trains.

Commuters and those looking to get away for the Christmas period will likely face delays and cancellations as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union walk out between December 2 and New Year's Day.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Our members have been left with no choice but to call a further 27 days of strike action on South Western Railway.

“At the last meeting we held with SWR, principles in agreements were made in good faith with the company’s negotiating team and we now feel hugely let down again.

“As long as the company continues to refuse to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard, we will remain in dispute.

“I want to congratulate our members on their continued resolve in their fight for safety and the role of the guard on SWR.

“It is wholly down to the management side that the core issue of the safety critical competencies and the role of the guard has not been agreed.”

RMT members will not be on duty from 00:01 on Monday December 2 until 23:59 on Wednesday December 11, from 00:01 on Friday December 13 until 23:59 on Tuesday December 24, and from 00:01 on Friday December 27 until 23:59 on January 1.

The RMT accused the company of “dangling” a potential breakthrough deal in front of the union and then failing to honour it, offering no reasons for the delay.

What services do South Western Railway offer?

South Western Railway operates regular services on four mainline routes:

The South Western Main Line (SWML) runs between London Waterloo and Weymouth; the route passes through several large towns and cities, including Woking, Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Dorchester.

The Portsmouth Direct Line branches off the SWML at Woking and runs to Portsmouth via Guildford, Heslemere, Petersfield and Havant.

The West of England runs down to Exeter via Gilligham and Yeovil, while the Alton line leaves the SWML at Brookwood and runs to Alton.