South Western Railway strikes December 2019: Dates, timetable and Portsmouth services affected over Christmas

RESIDENTS in Portsmouth planning to travel over the Christmas and New Year period are facing disruption as a union is carrying out 27 days of strikes in December.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 10:02 am

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) is holding its latest round of industrial action in its long-running battle with South Western Railway over the future of train guards.

A strike was not held on Thursday December 12, which was also the day of the General Election.

Its members – including guards, commercial guards and drivers – are carrying out 27 days of strikes throughout December in a move that could cause travel chaos over the Christmas and New Year period as people head out to the shops and visit loved ones.

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A South Western Railway train. Picture: Victoria Jones/ PA Wire

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RMT said it is calling the lengthy spell of industrial action due to SWR’s failure to give assurances that their new operational model won't move to Driver Controlled Operation – which the union says would result in the role of the guard being butchered completely.

Members are striking on the following dates:

- From 12.01am on Monday, December 2 until 11.59pm on Wednesday, December 11

Hundreds of thousands of rail passengers face travel misery during a series of strikes in the long-running dispute over guards on trains. Picture: Luke Powell/PA Wire

- From 12.01am on Friday, December 13 until 11.59pm on Tuesday, December 24 (Christmas Eve)

- From 12.0am on Friday, December 27 until 11.59pm on January 1, 2020.

With Sunday, December 1, Christmas Day and Boxing Day as well as the day of the general election on Thursday, December 12, being the only days in December that the union is not calling for strikes on.

How has the timetable changed?

People protesting outside Waterloo station. Picture: Luke Powell/PA Wire

Reduced services will run on major routes across our area and even be totally cancelled on some lines.

Find out more about about the amended timetable for December go to the South Western Railway website.

How will services be affected?

South Western Railway has said it expects to run more than half of its usual weekday services while prioritising services at peak times.

Services will finish earlier than normal at about 11pm.

Buses will replace train routes on some routes, with other ticket operators accepting SWT tickets.

What have SWR and RMT said?

Speaking about the industrial action, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Our members have been left with no choice but to call a further 27 days of strike action on South Western Railway.

‘At the last meeting we held with SWR principles in agreements were made in good faith with the company’s negotiating team and we now feel hugely let down again.

‘As long as the company continues to refuse to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard we will remain in dispute.

‘I want to congratulate our members on their continued resolve in their fight for safety and the role of the guard on SWR. 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 agreed.

‘The union remains available for talks.’

Andy Mellors, managing director of South Western Railway, said: ‘We have a team of around 250 contingency guards as well as guards who come into work, in previous strikes this has been around one in four.

‘They will be providing our service to customers during the strike period and we will be able to run just over half of our usual services.

‘Last trains will be earlier than usual.

‘Our advice to anyone travelling during the strike period is to check our website before travelling. A strike of this level is unprecedented.

‘Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year, and we know people will be worried about how they get to work, school and other commitments like Christmas parties.

‘So we are working hard on detailed plans for the period of the strikes and we will do everything we can to keep customers moving.

‘Over the Christmas period there will also be engineering work, we have got to reflect that in our strike timetable.

‘We are doing our level best to provide the best possible service to our customers.’