Rail commuters are facing severe disruption as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) plan to walk out on Tuesday.
Union members said that South Western Railways (SWR) “failure” to rule out they will move to a driver-controlled operation, SWR said the strikes are “unnecessary.”
The union said that SWR had pledged in February that “each passenger train shall operate with a guard with safety critical competencies.”
Mick Cash the general secretary of the RMT said their members are “angry and frustrated” as SWR has “rowed back” over their pledge in February.
Cash further said that SWR has failed, “to bolt down an agreement that matches up to our expectations on the guard guarantee.”
He said, “Worse than that, the company have refused to give assurances on the future operational role of the guard fuelling fears amongst our members of a stitch up.
“That situation has been compounded by an insistence that future operational models will be governed by the protection of company profits and not the safety of the travelling public.
“For more than three months we have sought to negotiate a conclusion to this dispute and 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 signed off.
“It is because of that crucial failure by SWR that we have had no option but to lift the suspension and move back into strike action.”
An SWR spokesman said they are disappointed that the RMT has called for “disruptive strike action.”
“However, they seem insistent on going ahead with their unnecessary strike which will impact our customers and colleagues alike.
“Clearly, they have decided to target popular events such as Royal Ascot with this cynical action which is driven by internal RMT politics.
“The RMT has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train which is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement.
“We want to move the conversation on to how we operate our new trains and take advantage of the new technology on board to benefit our customers.
“We remain committed to finding a solution that will help us build a better railway for everyone.
“We will do everything we can to keep customers moving during these strikes but would like to apologise for the disruption this unnecessary action will cause.
“Passengers are strongly advised to plan their travel in advance as services are likely to be busier than usual because of the strike action.
“Rail replacement services and ticket acceptance on other bus and rail networks have been organised where possible, whilst fans attending events at Twickenham, Hampton Court, Royal Ascot, and elsewhere, are advised to allow extra time for their travel.”
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