South Western and Northern rail services hit by strike action

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Rail services on two operators were disrupted on Saturday because of a fresh strike in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) on South Western Railway (SWR) and Arriva Rail North (Northern) walked out for 24 hours.

Hundreds of services were cancelled and buses replaced trains on some routes.

Passengers were advised to check before travelling.

The Northern strike went ahead even though the two sides have agreed to meet for talks next week at the conciliation service Acas.

The RMT said its members mounted picket lines outside stations and were solidly supporting the action.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members are standing solid, determined and united again this morning on both Northern and South Western Railway in the continuing fight for safety, security and access on our trains.

“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, ARN and SWR have dragged their heels.

“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.

“Northern have agreed to meet us next week when we expect them to put forward a set of serious proposals around the guard guarantee but SWR continue to slam the door in our faces.

“RMT will not allow safety, security and access on our railways to be compromised in the drive for private profit.

“We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that these disputes are all about safety and passenger service.”

The union said reports that the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary‎ are to commission a review into rail franchising was a “blatant and desperate effort to kick the continuing chaos on Britain’s railways into the long grass.”

Mr Cash said: “It won’t work as it’s clearly a desperate stunt by a Government clutching at straws which is ideologically opposed to the British people owning and running their railways.

“The only solution to the current rail franchise shambles is an end to private greed and a return to public ownership.

“RMT will be stepping up the fight to kick the spivs off the tracks, the strategy for the future supported by 70% of the British people.”

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