550 trains cancelled a day in longest rail strike in 20 yrs

Hundreds of trains are being cancelled during the strike

Around a third of all the trains on South Western Railway are being cancelled over the next five days due to members of the RMT union carrying out a five-day long strike over proposed changes to the role of train guards on South Western Railway (SWR).

The walkout means the cancellation of up to 550 trains services between Tuesday 23rd October and Friday 26th October, while half of all trains will be cancelled on Saturday 27th October.

Even though the rail company has said that it is providing replacement buses and advice on alternative options for travellers, the strike will lead to major disruption for travellers - not just commuters, but also families with children wanting to travel by train during the busy October school half term holiday.

The Rail, Maritime Transport union (RMT) is calling for fresh talks in a long-running dispute over plans for driver-only trains on the network.

Rail users at stations including Southampton Central and Farnborough told us that their patience is wearing thin.

The RMT's General Secretary, Mick Cash, said the strike was being 'solidly supported' and has written to members congratulating them on a 'magnificent stand'. He reiterated that the strike was over the safety issues his members are predicting if trains are removed from trains:

"Management can be under no doubt, having been balloted three times, of your determination to retain a guard with safety-critical responsibilities on all services.

Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary
The train operator has put on replacement buses on various routes

In August, the British Transport Police revealed that the amount of crime on our railways had gone up by 14% on the previous year. The RMT said this rise contributes to some of the concerns that passengers may have about safety on trains if there is a reduction to guards on trains.

However South Western Railway insists that there would be no job losses if its plans to change the role of guards go ahead.

“The RMT is cynically targeting hard-working commuters, families trying to enjoy the half-term holidays and sports fans with its latest strike dates.

South Western Railway, statement issued on 19th October

The two organisations are at an apparent deadlock.

The RMT is to hold a number of 24 hour strikes on Saturdays in November, which will affect the tens of thousands of rugby fans wanting to travel to and from Twickenham for England's international games.

If you are planning to travel by South Western Railway this week, you can find more information about the strikes and travel alterations and alternatives on the SWR website.