Rail services on some of the country's busiest routes will be hit by a wave of fresh strikes that will run from Friday to Monday in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on South Western Railway (SWR) will walk out leading to disruption to services across southern England, including commuter routes to and from London Waterloo.

The union claimed SWR is set to receive a "bailout" from the Government worth millions of pounds because of the lost fares as a result of industrial action.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Passengers will be outraged to know that South Western Railway will be paid by ministers even when they don't run trains on strike days.

"Despite repeated ministerial cover ups, rail bosses are now openly bragging that they will be receiving a taxpayer-funded strike bailout, which we estimate to be #32 million to date or the equivalent of a 3.4% annual fare cut for South Western Railway passengers.

"Thanks to the generosity of the Government, South Western Railway don't lose a penny from strikes and therefore have little incentive to negotiate seriously."

An SWR spokesman said: "Every franchise has mechanisms built in to discuss changes to circumstances with the Department for Transport, and SWR is no exception.

"The RMT has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train, which is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement.

"We want to move the conversation on to how we operate our new trains and take advantage of the new technology on board to benefit our customers.

"We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for everyone.