25,000 trains to be axed during South Western Railway strikes

The worst rail strike in history will see 25,000 trains cancelled during a month long strike on South Western Railway. It gets underway from next Monday - a week today.

900 trains a day will be axed for almost all of December causing chaos for commuters in the run-up to Christmas. The series of walk-outs will end at midnight on January the 1st.

Members of the RMT union are walking out in a dispute over the role of the guard on trains, who currently operate train doors. SWR want that to change on new trains with drivers opening and closing the doors saying it will improve reliability.

The RMT say it will take away vital safety duties from guards and is not safe. While SWR say they will keep guards on all trains many in the union fear it could lead to guards being removed in the future to save money.

Members of the RMT union are walking out in a dispute over the role of the guard on trains Credit: ITV Meridian

All late-night services will be cancelled after 11pm hitting festive parties. And there will be no service at all on some routes like Aldershot to Guildford - with buses replacing trains from key commuting towns including Camberley, Bagshot and Frimley.

SWR is the busiest commuter rail network in Europe so will be a bitter blow to passengers.

On some routes buses will replace trains:

  • Ascot to Aldershot

  • Virginia Water to Weybridge

  • Epsom to Effingham Junction

  • Exeter St David’s to Honiton

Mick Tosh from the RMT union says SWR is taking drastic action to minimise disruption.

It is also expected an increased number of trains will not run at weekends. A timetable covering this and Christmas will be published later.

In a statement SWR say they will use mangers and other staff - so-called contingency guards - to operate services.

"We expect to run more than half of our normal Monday to Friday services, prioritising capacity during peak periods, with the same level of peak services as in previous strikes. Peak services will be much busier than normal and we may have to introduce queuing at a number of our busiest stations.

"This strike is the last thing any of us wanted. We will do everything possible to get you where you need to go but ask that you leave more time for your journey and check before you travel for the latest information."

It is understood they will be spread more thinly because of the length of the strikes and Christmas leave already booked meaning fewer services will operate than on previous strike days.