Rail strikes

South Western Railway workers vote to continue strikes in guards dispute

South Western Railway
Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Workers on South Western Railway (SWR) have voted to continue taking strike action in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union backed more walkouts by 416, with 88 voting against.

A bigger majority voted to take other forms of industrial action – the sixth time the union has balloted its members on SWR over the issue because of industrial action legislation.

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The turnout was 59%, well above the legal threshold for industrial action ballots.

The union has held dozens of strikes over the past two years, including 27 in December and on New Year’s Day, which caused travel misery for passengers.

‘Disappointed with the result’

A spokesman for South Western Railway said: “We are obviously disappointed with the result, although it should be noted that less than half of eligible RMT members voted for strike action.

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“On this basis we hope the RMT will use the next few weeks as a window of opportunity to work with us to find a solution so that our passengers do not suffer more unnecessary disruption.

“Similar proposals to the ones we have made are already in place with numerous operators across London and the South East, and we have already promised that we will keep guards with a safety critical role on all our trains.”

Earlier this week, South Western Railway’s finances indicated the franchise is “not sustainable in the long term”, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

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Mr Shapps MP said the operator’s performances have been “significantly below expectation” since the franchise started in August 2017, claiming poor punctuality and operational performances combined with slower revenue growth are to blame.

South Western Railway have not yet failed to meet financial commitments but the Department for Transport will “ensure that South Western Railway are held to their financial obligations under the current franchise”.

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt