Strike action continues on South Western Railway (SWR) today as part of a long-running dispute over train guards.

The firm is cancelling 800 trains a day until the end of Monday - about half its services - following the walkout by National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) members.

The union wants an end to driver-only trains where no guards are on duty.

However SWR says all services on their new fleet of 750 trains will have at least one guard.

Both sides cannot agree about exactly what the guard's specific duties should be. 

An anonymous train driver has spoken to the Gazette about why they believe SWR needs to go further in hiring more guards.  

As a train driver, I know just how important it is to have extra security on trains which is why I am backing the South West Railway strikes 100 per cent.

I got into this industry because it’s one where men and women actually earn the same amount of money for the same role. Career progression is also great.

I know many who have risen through the ranks from being a trolly person to a becoming driver or a manager. But for its benefits, it’s a very tough job that is getting harder.

Crime is soaring on Britain's railways. The British Transport Police reported 61,159 crimes over 2017-18, up a staggering 52,235 from the previous 12 months. 

Trains are very vulnerable to terrorists and are used regularly for county lines drug smuggling.

That’s not to mention the number of sexual assaults and violent attacks that take place on rail networks across the UK on a daily basis.

The number of sexual offences has increased 16 per cent to 2,472, with British Transport Police previously saying that there were still many more crimes of this type which go unreported”.

Violent crime has risen 26 per cent since 2016-17 with 11,711 incidents recorded in 2017-18.

The idea of not having extra security or an extra guard is mad.

As a passenger, I certainly wouldn’t want to travel alone on a train at night with no guard. And when you put that into the context of being a train driver, left with just one other person it doesn’t make sense. A 12-car train can hold up to one thousand people who all come under the care of the driver.

In emergency situations, if a driver got caught up dealing with technical problems, the situation could get deadly. Without a guard, passengers would let themselves off onto 750 volt live line, for example, or walking into the path of a 100mph train. Guards deserve more respect.

They are the eyes and the ears of the train. They patrol, liaise with customers and passengers, are highly trained to assist the driver in emergencies and can even step in in the event of a tragedy or if something were to happen to the driver.

I genuinely feel the bad press against this strike is a government strategy to break up a strong union and they are covering up many reports stating how the guard is vital position.

The public has been misled to think train guards are simply there to operate the doors because of the way the government has tried to sway the debate.

Strikes are vital because there is strength in numbers and they help push complaints to the top and force companies to reconsider and listen to their employees.

In this era of zero-hour contracts and gig economy, I would have thought union membership was more vital than ever though you wouldn’t know it judging by the public’s reaction to this set of strikes.