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War of words grows on second SWR strike day

THE war of words between South Western Railway and the RMT has become more heated on the second day of five 24-hour walkouts.

The dispute over on-train staffing and the future role of guards has been running for months, but the latest action is the most intensive yet.

Although the RMT claimed yesterday that support from its members was ‘rock solid’, SWR said last night that it had been able to run over half its full timetable ‘thanks to our team of contingency guards and the one-in-three rostered guards who reported for work.

‘Services to Royal Ascot also ran well and we were able to keep racegoers moving. We are intending to add additional services wherever possible to help keep passengers flowing at pinch points, such as Surbiton.’

The RMT, meanwhile, has quoted a new tweet from SWR which said: ‘Morning, the trains we currently have on the network cannot be run without a guard, that situation would change, the dispute is about the introduction of new stock, which could potentially be operated by the driver.’

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Whoever runs the SWR twitter feed has let the cat out of the bag.

‘Their plans are clear – they want driver operation on the new fleet and they don’t mind decimating and downgrading the role of the guard to get it. That is what the action this week is all about.

‘It’s time for SWR to get serious and sit down with this union and reach a resolution which protects the safety-critical role of the guard in line with the warm words which enabled us to suspend action earlier this year.’

SWR had said it was ‘disappointed’ that the strikes were taking place ‘despite having had dates in the diary for what we hoped would be further constructive talks’.

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