South Western Railway

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The RMT will resume strike action after suspending it in February

Rail commuters on some of the country’s busiest routes are facing disruption due to a planned five-day strike over the future of train guards.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) plan to walk out on Tuesday over South Western Railway’s “failure” to satisfy their request for a guard on each train.

Commuters into London, as well as racegoers at Royal Ascot, are likely to be impacted.

SWR called the strikes “unnecessary”.

Planned industrial action was suspended in February as a resolution seemed in sight, with the RMT claiming SWR had pledged “each passenger train shall operate with a guard with safety critical competencies”.

‘Stitch up’

But RMT said SWR had now “rowed back” on its pledges and would not guarantee it would keep guards on trains in the future.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said members were “angry and frustrated” due to SWR “failing to bolt down an agreement that matches up to our expectations on the guard guarantee”.

“Worse than that, the company have refused to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard,” Mr Cash said.

He also criticised SWR’s “insistence” that future schemes would be “governed” by the protection of company profits rather than that of “the travelling public”.

‘Cynical action’

A SWR spokesman said it was “very disappointing” the union had decided to call the strike despite dates being set for more talks.

“Clearly, they have decided to target popular events such as Royal Ascot with this cynical action which is driven by internal RMT politics,” the spokesman said.

The company said it met with union representatives last week to fix new dates for talks but the unions were “insistent on going ahead with their unnecessary strike”.

It said it had matched RMT’s request to keep a guard on each train and wanted to move on to discuss how to make the most of new technology on board.

The spokesman said the company “remains committed to finding a solution” and advised passengers heading to Twickenham, Hampton Court and Royal Ascot, to allow extra time for their travel.

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