RMT weekend train strikes cause major disruption across the UK

Emily Nicolle
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The strikes are planned to continue until midnight tonight (Source: Getty)

A 48-hour rail strike on South Western Railway (SWR) by the RMT Union has continued today, alongside a 24-hour walkout by workers on Northern rails.

The SWR strike, which began yesterday morning and affects routes out of London Waterloo and Clapham Junction, has led the operator to run only around half of its normal services until midnight tonight. This is in addition to continued disruption from planned engineering works.

Strikes on Northern rail, which is now on its seventh of nine planned walkouts, will run only 30 per cent of its services. A severely reduced service is in place before 9am and after 6pm, while a major festival takes place in Liverpool.

The strikes centre on an ongoing dispute over plans to remove train guards, leaving behind driver-only services. The RMT said the guards play a "vital" role in the day-to-day safety of passengers onboard.

Read more: RMT 48-hour strike to go ahead on South Western Railway tomorrow

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "It is scandalous that while other train operators have been prepared to engage seriously with RMT on the crucial issue of a guaranteed second safety-critical member of staff on their services [Northern] and SWR have dragged their heels and made a mockery of the talks process."

"It's time for both these companies to get out of the bunker and start talking seriously and positively with the union on the issue of the guard guarantee instead of gambling with public safety as they pump up their profits."

SWR said in a statement: "We are extremely disappointed that yet again the RMT has decided to disrupt the lives of customers and employees rather than participate in constructive talks to help resolve this matter for their members."

"We have offered a framework for talks which would guarantee the rostering of a second person with safety critical competencies on all our trains, and our plans mean more guards, not fewer."

Northern's regional director Liam Sumpter asked passengers to plan their travel carefully and to seek alternative means of transportation if possible while the strikes are in progress.

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