A 28-DAY strike will kick off tomorrow (Monday) across the South Western Railway network after the failure of negotiations last week.
Members of the RMT union will stage three walk-outs between 2nd December and 1st January in the ongoing dispute over the future role of guards on SWR services, which include stations in the New Forest and Christchurch.
The company said in response it was working on new temporary timetables with off-peak operations reduced and services finishing earlier than normal at around 11pm.
Contingency staff will be in place during the strikes, rail replacement services in some locations, and arrangements are being worked on for other transport operators to accept SWR tickets.
More than half of weekday services would be running, promised SWR managing director Andy Mellors, but he warned trains would be busier than usual.
Reacting to the ongoing dispute, Mr Mellors said: “We promise that there will always be a guard on our trains. We also promise our guards will maintain a safety critical role on our trains.
“We believe that these promises deliver what the RMT has been asking for, so these strikes are unnecessary.
“All we’re asking is that guards work with us to provide the modern, efficient train service customers need and want by bringing in new trains which could mean over 10-million more passenger journeys arrive on-time in peak hours every year.”
But RMT general secretary Mick Cash blamed SWR for failing to put forward a resolution during talks overseen by industrial mediator ACAS.
He said: “Throughout these talks SWR have not shown any intention of moving the issues at the heart of the dispute forwards despite verbal assurances in earlier discussions.
“It has become increasingly clear that they are not interested in reaching a settlement at this time.
“As a result of the company attitude all planned action remains on and the union is committed to ensuring the safest possible method of operation. RMT will remain available for discussions with the company at any time.”
RMT member guards, commercial guards and drivers will walk out from:
- Monday 2nd December until Wednesday 11th December
- Friday 13th December until Tuesday 24th December
- Friday 27th December until Wednesday 1st January
For travel information during the strikes, go to www.southwesternrailway.com/plan-my-journey/rmt-industrial-action.