Christmas transport chaos as rail workers set to strike three times over festive periodÂ
Portsmouth residents planning to travel by train over the festive period are facing two days of transport misery, as rail workers announce plans for further strikes.Â
Workers on South Western Railway will walk out for 24 hours on both December 27 and New Years Eve as theÂ bitter dispute over guards on trains continues.Â
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will also go on strikeÂ on December 22.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: '˜This latest phase of action in the long-running dispute on South Western Railway comes solely as a result of the company's intransigence when it comes to reaching a negotiated settlement that would underpin the guard guarantee on their trains.
'˜South Western Railway stubbornly refuse to make any progress at all in resolving this dispute, which is about safety, security and access.
'˜The company is hell-bent on opening up a loophole that would allow them to run services driver-only at their discretion.
'˜Recent figures have shown a shocking surge in violence on our railways across the festive season and it is frankly appalling that South Western Railway are looking for a green light to throw the guard off their trains as and when they see fit in the name of profit.'Â
The RMT called on the company to negotiate a guard guarantee it has agreed with other firms.
RMT members on Arriva Rail North are striking on every Saturday for the rest of the year in the same dispute.
A South Western Railway spokesman said: '˜We had already offered to meet with the RMT again next week to try and resolve this dispute.
'˜By announcing further strike dates, the RMT has shown it has no intention of finding a solution and is only interested in inflicting more misery on passengers as they try to enjoy the festive season.
'˜This strike action is totally unnecessary. We have guaranteed to roster a guard on every train, and we need more, not fewer guards.
'˜Should this strike action go ahead, we will do everything we can to provide the best service possible for our customers.'