South Western Railway passengers braced for more misery as industrial action to go ahead from Friday 16 February

 
Rebecca Smith
SWR has faced walkouts by the RMT over the role of the guard
SWR has faced walkouts by the RMT over the role of the guard (Source: SWR)

South Western Railway passengers face more misery later this week after the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union confirmed this morning that industrial action will go ahead due to a row over the role of the guard.

From Friday 16 February through to the end of Monday 19 February, all guards, commercial guards and train driver members have been instructed not to work any rest days, while guard members have been told to refuse to work in accordance with sections of the Guards Restructuring Agreement.

SWR runs services to and from the UK's busiest station - London Waterloo - and has been one of many train firms embroiled in disputes over the role of the guard with the union.

Read more: Week of rail misery kicks off with strikes across five train firms

The RMT's general secretary Mick Cash, said: "It is the intransigent attitude of the company which has forced us to put on this latest phase of industrial action in an effort to force them to see sense and to drive them back to the negotiating table for genuine and meaningful talks.

"We know that this action will have a serious impact on services and the responsibility for the disruption caused will be wholly down to South Western Railway and their pig-headed attitude."

A SWR spokesperson said:

We will plan to run our full service and will do everything we can to minimise the effect on passengers.

It marks the latest batch of industrial action to face SWR, which has been dealing with strike action by the RMT over the row too. During walkouts last month, SWR pledged to run more than 70 per cent of its normal Monday to Friday timetable.

Independent watchdog Transport Focus last month called a special meeting with SWR and Network Rail over months of "declining punctuality and major disruption" across the SWR network.

After the meeting, Transport Focus boss Anthony Smith said: "Passengers will be pleased to hear South Western and Network Rail are tackling this poor performance. It’s vital that they continue to work together to produce a more robust timetable."

SWR and Network Rail said in a joint statement that the meeting had allowed them to update Transport Focus on plans to improve the service into Waterloo station through an £800m upgrade.

Read more: RMT to protest against rail fare hikes - by giving commuters chocolates

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