New Year’s Eve travel on some of the country’s busiest rail routes were disrupted by another strike in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on South Western Railway (SWR) walked out for 24 hours, causing services to be reduced.
The union said the strike was being solidly supported, with picket lines mounted outside stations including London Waterloo.
SWR said: “The RMT continues to play politics with their ongoing strike action, causing misery at a time when people just want to be with friends and family or get to work. If the union really cares about passengers it should call off these strikes and start helping to build a better railway.
“We have guaranteed to roster a guard on every train – we are employing more, not fewer guards. We remain focused on running services and delivering the improvements our customers deserve, including investing £1.2 billion over the course of the franchise.
“We will do everything we can to keep customers moving and reduce disruption whenever the RMT strikes.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT members are standing united and determined again this morning on South Western Railway in the long-running fight for safety, security and access on our trains while the private train company gambles with their passengers’ well-being.
“As violence and sexual assaults have once again been in the spotlight over the festive period on Britain’s dangerous railways, this is no time to be taking risks in the interest of profit.
“RMT has made it clear that the union will step up the fight for secure and accessible rail services for all while SWR are openly planning a new year assault on the entire safety culture.
“RMT has campaigned relentlessly for the principle of putting safety on the railway first and the current stalemate over the guard guarantee cannot be allowed to continue into the new year as it makes a mockery of normal industrial relations and the negotiating process.
“We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that this dispute is all about safety and passenger service on Britain’s increasingly violent and dangerous railways.”