FRESH strike action of South Western Railway staff has been announced to take place in the run-up to Christmas.

Travellers will be faced with disruption over the festive break as RMT Union confirms strike action for Saturday, December 22.

Union bosses claim South Western Railway "refuses to make progress" over resolving a long-running dispute on guards' safety.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash added: “Recent figures have shown a shocking surge in violence on our railways across the festive season and it is frankly appalling that South Western Railway are looking for a green light to throw the guard off their trains as and when they see fit in the name of profit.

“There's a simple solution to ‎this dispute and it means SWR stop playing with words and negotiate the guard guarantee that reflects the safety values of the agreements RMT has pinned down in other parts of the rail industry."

South Western Railway has responded to the move stating it will do everything possible to provide "the best service" for customers.

An SWR spokesperson also claimed the union was "scaremongering" about the number of crimes on the network which, they said, had reduced by nearly six per cent since April.

They added: "By targeting the last Saturday before Christmas when people are trying to travel to be with family and friends the RMT is ensuring the maximum misery is inflicted at what should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment.

“This action is totally unnecessary. We have guaranteed to roster a guard on every train, and we need more, not fewer guards – 70 more by May 2019 – and we have an opportunity with the introduction of the new suburban trains to operate these trains differently to maximise the customer benefits."