1 in 5 workers turned up on first day of rail strike says South Western Railway boss

South Western Railway train

The woman who runs South Western Railways says more workers than expected have turned up for work on Day one of the biggest rail strike in a generation.

Managing Director Claire Mann apologised to customers for the disruption - but said around 1 in 5 workers has reported for their shift.

"Today's gone well because our customers have not travelled unless they absolutely needed to.

"We've run the timetable we intended to run and we've had more colleagues attending work than we expected and it's run really smoothly."

Despite that only around 20% of services have been operating - just four trains an hour heading into London on the main line from Basingstoke.

South West Trains operates mainline services from Poole, Reading, Southampton, Winchester, Portsmouth and Woking into London Waterloo as well as other local lines.

There were no trains before 7.30am on Tuesday morning and all services will stop after 6.30pm with the network at a standstill and stations closed.

There's also a knock on for tomorrow - which is not officially a strike day. Services will not resume until after 7.30am which is a blow for many early morning commuters.

"I would like to apologise to customers for the disruption and the lack of services they have had today," said Claire Mann.

"The strike was called by the RMT and we are doing the best we can to provide what we can.

"Because Network Rail are also on strike it means that the services we are running are the only ones they can provide signallers and engineers for us. That's why we have such a limited service.

"I really want to call on the RMT to come back to the table and let's take this dispute to an end."

Asked if rail companies like hers were doing enough, she said: "The individual train operating companies are working together in conjunction with the RMT to discuss how we take this forward.

"My role is to ensure that my railway is delivering what it can whilst these talks are held centrally."

Further strike action is planned for Thursday June 23 and Saturday June 25 - with disruption affecting the days in between too.

Passengers are being advised to avoid rail travel if they can between today (21 June) and Sunday 26 June.