COMMUTERS are facing misery this weekend as a four-day strike action gets underway on South Western Railway.

Some servies from Basingstoke have been affected as disgruntled workers have started a picket line outside the railway station. 

SWR services between Reading and Basingstoke have been cancelled entirely, whilst there will be a reduced service between London Waterloo and Exeter, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union are striking in a bid to protect the role of guards on SWR services.

They say it is a "safety critical role" and that SWR "have played fast and loose and attempted to kick this fundamental issue into the long grass" - whilst SWR say that they have agreed to keep a guard on every train.

Mick Cash, General Secretary of the RMT, said: "Our members are standing united and rock solid on their picket lines again this morning on this first day of the latest phase of strike action in the fight to put safety first on South Western Railway.

"RMT members have not come this far in the long fight for safety on South Western Railway only to be snubbed when a deal is clearly there to be done.

"It is now down to the company to get serious and listen to what their own staff are saying."

Meanwhile, a SWR spokesman said: "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."

SWR plans to cancel around half its services – 800 trains a day – until the end of Monday.

However, they "will do everything we can to keep customers moving".

The only line to expect a normal-running service is the Isle of Wight's eight-stop Island Line.

However, passengers will be able use rail replacement bus services and other providers where available.

Protesters outside Basingstoke Railway Station did not want to comment when approached by a reporter. 

However a trainee train driver said the protesters were important to ensure there were two members of staff on the trains at all times.