Train strikes to disrupt thousands of SWR commuters as union declares fiveday

Industrial action was suspended in February when it appeared a resolution was in sight, but the union is renewing strikes after accusing the company of “dragging its heels” in protracted talks over the past few months.The RMT said SWR was not prepared to give assurances that its new operational model will not move to driver controlled operation, which sparked fears of a “stitch up.”According to the RMT, the train company pledged in February that “each passenger train shall operate with a guard with safety critical competencies”, which led the union to suspend industrial action.Union officials said since then it has been “stalemate”, accusing the company of “rowing back” on its public pledges.RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members have been left with no choice but to go ahead with strike action.”They are angry and frustrated that despite suspending action in good faith, and entering into talks in a positive and constructive manner, South Western Railway have dragged their heels and failed 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, fuelling fears amongst our members of a stitch up. Strike map Customers paying more than £5,000-a-year for a season ticket had their regular trains cancelled on Tuesday morning, and those that were running were overcrowded, forcing people to stand or sit in vestibules connecting carriages. Picket lines were being mounted outside stations across the SWR network, trains were cancelled or delayed, and a bus replacement service was in operation in some areas. A number of high profile events are being held this week which could be affected by the strikes, including the Royal Ascot racehorse meeting, music concerts at Hampton Court, and a gig by rock band Metallica at Twickenham on Thursday.SWR said it will run extra trains to the events.Reaction from the networkThousands of commuters shared their experiences of the travel disruption on social media, with footage showing queues spilling out of Surbiton station in south-west London, and a long way down the street.”It felt very unorganised, one person trying to deal with everyone’s queries and he didn’t seem to have a straight answer,” said 29-year-old Adam Neal-Jones, who posted a video to Twitter.”The queue was surprisingly orderly and people were joining it with little qualm in a very British way.”A lot of people stood about quite unsure if they should attempt a bus or to get to a different station.”I think surprise was the general mood as it seemed to be fine according to national rail app and we had been told there would be minimal disruption.”Speaking at 8.45am, Mr Neal-Jones said he was told 11am was the earliest he could expect to board a train. Train chaos South Western Railway strikes this is the que down Surbiton high street this morning. I’m now back at home chilling out waiting for the dust to settle. pic.twitter.com/0DOzNBoNp2— Shaun Ferguson 🇿🇦🇬🇧🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (@sferguk) June 18, 2019 Saturday strike Why are passengers being affected again?The five-day industrial action is continuing in spite of an agreement that guards would be kept on every train.  #SWRStrike chaos today at Surbiton station, told to come back after 11 to possible get on a train. @nationalrailenq app suggests trains running on time, only if you can get on one. @SW_Help @kingstonnews @BBCTravelAlert Utter madness… pic.twitter.com/K5AGFr8j2H— Adam Neal-Jones (@adammnjones) June 18, 2019 £450 a month to be squashed on like sardines….I just love commuting #SWRStrike #southwesternrailway #swr pic.twitter.com/smuluipqRN— Calum Wild (@CalumWilld) June 18, 2019 “That situation has been compounded by an insistence that future operational models will be governed by the protection of company profits and not the safety of the travelling public.”For more than three months we have sought to negotiate a conclusion to this dispute and it is wholly down to the management side that the core issue of the safety critical competencies and the role of the guard has not been signed off. It is because of that crucial failure by SWR that we have had no option but to lift the suspension and move back into strike action.”How will the strike affect your train? Day 1 of the #SouthWesternRailway strike. 3 hours to get to work. The striking Guards don’t seem to do anything anyway apart from occasionally apologise for a late running train and terrible service @SW_Railway @swtrains_watch pic.twitter.com/fTKwBBaR7y— Tom Seldon (@TomSeldon) June 18, 2019 What is happening for the rest of the week?From Wednesday through to Friday, commuters will be forced to endure the same disruption as Tuesday.Hugely reduced services will affect all routes into London Waterloo, with some journeys axed altogether. The full rundown of the week’s industrial action can be found at South Western Railway’s website, but here are some of the major changes. Basingstoke to London Waterloo: Reduced hourly service in each directionWoking to London Waterloo: Reduced half-hourly serviceSalisbury to London Waterloo: Reduced hourly servicePortsmouth Harbour to London Waterloo: Reduced service with two trains an hour (one fast, one slow). The London Waterloo to Haslemere trains will not runDorking to London Waterloo: Trains will run every thirty minutes between London Waterloo and Epsom. No services between Leatherhead and DorkingGuildford to London Waterloo: Hourly train service will run from 7am to 10pm between Surbiton and Guildford via Cobham Hampton Court to London Waterloo: Replacement buses will be running a half hourly service between Hampton Court and SurbitonChessington South to London Waterloo: Reduced service will start later than normal at 8pm, with three trains every two hours. The train service will also finish earlier than normal at 7pmLondon Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside: Half-hourly service will run between London Waterloo and Windsor & Eton Riverside (via Hounslow) between 8am and 8pmLondon Waterloo to Reading: Two trains each hour  London Waterloo to Weybridge via Staines: These trains will not runOn Saturday, there is a different timetable to usual too. Here is the map:  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. #Surbiton is in a totally mess this morning! The line to get into the station is a mile long now! And not moving. No staff to tell you what to do and hardly any info before this telling us about the strike!? @SW_Help is this going to be the case all week!??? pic.twitter.com/CwQ8KlcB3A— Francesca Gillett (@FrancescaHeath) June 18, 2019 ℹ️ There’ll be changes to our timetable until 22 June. This is due to RMT union industrial action. Find the latest information at https://t.co/WuP33njSWo pic.twitter.com/M9nISrDz8G— South Western Railway (@SW_Railway) June 17, 2019 Commuters looking to get to London for work were told to go home and come back two-and-a-half hours later as rail passengers suffered misery on the first morning of a five-day strike.  Some of the busiest routes in the country faced fresh disruption on Tuesday as workers walked out at the start of a mass walkout in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.Commuters on South Western Railway (SWR) services, including those into London Waterloo, were hit as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union took action after the row flared up.At Surbiton, commuters were faced with a 300m queue just to get into the station, and many of the trains that were running on a reduced timetable were delayed. By 8.20am, city workers looking to get into the capital by 9am were told to come back at 11am in the hope that the queues had died down.Passengers have reacted furiously to the latest in a string of walkouts, which so far have seemingly achieved nothing. @SW_Railway where you sit on strike day. All this for over £100 a week. A joke. #southwesternrailway pic.twitter.com/z2vBksMNfF— Fraser Cassidy (@FraserCassidy) June 18, 2019 Anyone travelling from Surbiton, be warned. There’s a massive queue to even enter the station today going down the high street. #SWRStrike #SWR #southwesternrailway pic.twitter.com/vMdfqU6ktP— carol (@notdaftcarol) June 18, 2019 Credit:SWR Credit:SWR @SW_Railway it’s one thing to have strikes. It’s another when the only trains you have running depart LATE. What’s your excuse?! pic.twitter.com/Px6K1O8vNd— Krish Puri (@KrishPuri1) June 18, 2019 An SWR spokesman said: “It’s very disappointing that despite having had dates in the diary for what we hoped would be further constructive talks, the RMT union decided to call disruptive strike action over the course of five days.”The company said it met with the union last week and agreed to arrange new dates to continue those talks.”However, they seem insistent on going ahead with their unnecessary strike which will impact our customers and colleagues alike.”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. We will do everything we can to keep customers moving during these strikes but would like to apologise for the disruption this unnecessary action will cause.”Passengers are strongly advised to plan their travel in advance as services are likely to be busier than usual because of the strike action.”Rail replacement services and ticket acceptance on other bus and rail networks have been organised where possible, whilst fans attending events at Twickenham, Hampton Court, Royal Ascot, and elsewhere, are advised to allow extra time for their travel. “Customers will be able to see amendments to their train services, as currently published on our website.” read more