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  1. ITV Report

48-hour strike underway on South Western Railway

The two day strike on South Western Railway is part of a dispute over driver-only trains Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

A 48-hour strike is underway on South Western Railway (SWR). The walkout by members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is the latest in a long running dispute over changes to the role of guards on trains.

Around a third of SWR's trains have been cancelled on Friday 5th October and Saturday 6th October. More disruption for passengers is expected on Saturday. The rail firm's Managing Director, Andy Mellors, has apologised to its customers for the inconvenience caused. An amended timetable has been put in place.

SWR has provided further information for affected travellers on its website Credit: South Western Railway

The RMT says new figures from the British Transport Police detailing a 17% rise in crime on the railways support its claims that guards play a vital safety role.

The RMT said that four out of every five guards taking part in a survey said they had prevented an emergency situation and used their safety training in an actual emergency. Half of the 800 guards who were questioned said they had prevented at least one sexual assault and 98% said they had dealt with anti-social behaviour.

"In contrast to the cost-cutting plans and misleading propaganda dreamt up in Whitehall and the rail boardrooms, this survey shows the reality of the vital role train guards play at the sharp end to ensure a safe, secure and accessible railway.

"In their own words, these dedicated rail workers are warning of the horrific consequences of there no longer being a guard to provide assistance and to help deal with emergencies, violent behaviour, sexual assaults and the terrorist threat.

"Unsurprisingly, 97% of guards in our survey felt the main reason companies are introducing driver-only trains is to increase profits, with the same number saying the Government is on side of the train companies and not passengers.

"It's time the Government and rail bosses stopped thinking about the bottom line and listened to voices of rail workers delivering on the front line."

– Mick cash, General Secretary, RMT union