'An absolutely awful week'-Network Rail apologises to passengers as RMT says striking is last resort

Watch: ITV News reporter Mike Pearse talks to passengers in Reading trying to travel during Saturday's strike action

The weekend travel plans of thousands of rail passengers in the south have been badly affected by the third day of strike action by the RMT union.

Many more people were taking the very few trains that were running on Saturday compared to strike days earlier the week.

Passengers told ITV Meridian they were determined to travel to events they'd been looking forward to for months.

For others short train trips turned into bus journeys taking hours.

Passengers queue for replacement bus services at Reading station

Mick Lynch, head of the RMT union said: " We're told that if we strike during the week we're ruining businesses, and if we strike during the weekend we're ruining hospitality and the leisure economy.

"We don't want to be striking at all- we want a settlement."

But he said further action could not be ruled out.

Mick Lynch joined a picket line at Euston station Credit: PA

Mr Lynch, who joined workers on a picket line outside Euston Station on Saturday, called on Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to "get on with his job” and enter into "constructive" talks with the unions settle the bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

Only a fifth of services were running on Saturday, and half of lines closed, with operators telling passengers they should only travel by train if necessary and to check their journey in advance.

The RMT union, whose members include everyone from guards and signallers to catering staff and cleaners, wants a written guarantee from the rail operator that no compulsory redundancies will be made as part of planned reforms.

John Halsall, the MD of Network Rail Southern, said they were doing everything possible to get trains moving: "This has been an absolutely awful week for passengers trying to use our railways and I am genuinely and sincerely sorry.

"We are doing everything we can to both provide the best possible service by training 250 contingent staff who have done and amazing job to get some service going but of course it is only a fraction of the normal service, and we are also working incredibly hard with the trade union to try and resolve what is a very difficult and challenging negotiation."

Passengers are warned that with many trains out of position, normal service will not be resumed until Monday morning.