Train staff to strike on New Year’s Eve

Commuters ride a crowded South Western Railway train on the Portsmouth to London line. Picture: Carey Tompsett/PA Wire
Commuters ride a crowded South Western Railway train on the Portsmouth to London line. Picture: Carey Tompsett/PA Wire

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Workers on South Western Railway are to strike on New Year’s Eve in a dispute over the role of guards, the RMT union has announced.

Union members will carry out industrial action between 12am and 11.59pm on what is expected to be the busiest nights of the year.

Southern Rail workers have already held several strike days over 'driver-only' trains. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Southern Rail workers have already held several strike days over 'driver-only' trains. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

The two sides have been involved in an ongoing dispute over the use of guards on train, with the union urging SWR not to implement a ‘driver-only’ policy where drivers would be solely responsible for making sure it is safe to close train doors.

The union revealed that it had met Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in a bid to resolve the disputes affecting five rail operators, but said there were ‘contradictory messages and confusion’ from the minister and his department.

The union said it was told that the government is not opposed to a second person on trains and it was up to the RMT and employers to reach an agreement and was offered further talks to discuss its concerns about driver-only trains.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘It’s the continuing failure of the train companies and their political puppet masters in government to make any attempt whatsoever to resolve these disputes over rail safety that has led us to call action today and the responsibility for the disruption that will be caused lays fairly and squarely at their door.’