South Western Railway staff in fresh four-day strike

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South Western Railway train drivers and guards have begun their latest walk out in a long-running dispute over the role of guards on trains.

The four-day strike will see more than 40% of services cut on Friday and Monday and only half of all scheduled trains running at the weekend.

The dispute, which centres on the future roles and responsibilities of guards on trains, began in 2017. Earlier this year SWR pledged that its trains would operate with a guard with “safety critical” competencies, but the RMT said it is still waiting for the train operator to confirm what guards’ responsibilities will be.

The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: “Despite all our efforts to pin down an agreement that honours promises made by SWR, and which protects the safety critical role of the guard at the platform/train interface, the company have played fast and loose and attempted to kick this fundamental issue into the long grass.

“RMT members have not come this far in the long fight for safety on South Western Railway only to be snubbed when a deal is clearly there to be done. It is now down to the company to get serious and listen to what their own staff are saying.”

An SWR spokesperson said: “The RMT has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train which is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement.

“We want to move the conversation on to how we operate our new trains and take advantage of the new technology on board to benefit our customers. We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for everyone.”

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