AROUND a third of rail services in the region are set to be axed due to two days of strike action next week.

South Western Railway (SWR) has announced it will run more than 60% of its normal train services on November 8 and 9 - the days the RMT union has instructed its guards members to go on strike.

There will also be rail replacement bus services on some routes to help passengers travel.

Andy Mellors, managing director at SWR, said: “We plan to run around two thirds of our regular timetabled services which will deliver around 70% of the seats we normally provide across the morning and evening peak hours in to London.

“However, we are sorry that many of our passengers will find trains much busier than normal and that, in some places, replacement bus services will run instead of trains on the strike date called by the RMT."

The strike is part of an ongoing dispute between RMT and SWR over the future role of guards on trains.

The union, which fears an extension of driver only operations on the network and on other railways in England, has said such a move is just for increased profit for rail companies.

However, Mr Mellors added: “This strike is unnecessary. We have repeatedly assured the RMT that we plan to keep two safety-trained employees on our trains. This is because we know that a second member of staff provides assurance to our passengers and ensures we have capable colleagues on board to deliver assistance or offer advice during journeys.

“No one will lose their job. We have been very clear that we are guaranteeing the jobs, salaries and terms and conditions of guards. in fact, as we expand our fleet, we will be hiring more drivers and guards to help deliver more and better services for passengers.”

Last week, Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “Every single effort that RMT has made to reach negotiated settlements in these separate disputes with the different train operating companies over safe operation and safe staffing has been kicked back in our faces and we are left with no option but to confirm a further phase of industrial action in early November."

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