Commuter chaos and travel misery as 27-day South Western Railway strike begins ...

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A month of travel misery has begun for commuters this morning as they battle the first of a record-breaking 27-day strike.   

The unprecedented 27-day industrial action means 850 South Western Railway trains will be cancelled every day on one of the country's busiest rail networks. 

The action by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) is already causing chaos for an estimated 16million passengers this morning.

Frustrated passengers stood on freezing cold platforms took to Twitter in the early hours to complain about overcrowding, cancellations and delays.

One person at Motspur Park Station in south London wrote: 'Freezing cold outside & the waiting room is closed. Adding the train strike of SW trains, more misery tot he working class people trying to make it to work.' 

Another tweeted: 'Day one of the SW Railway strike, 6.30am. Already huge delays to few trains running, massive overcrowding & 'signal failure.

'This just isn't sustainable for a month. The franchise should be taken away from them.'  

Miserable commuters are pictured on board a crowded South Western Railway train heading for London Waterloo on the first of a 27-day strike

Miserable commuters are pictured on board a crowded South Western Railway train heading for London Waterloo on the first of a 27-day strike 

Commuters at Bracknell Station in Berkshire waiting to get on reduced train service

Commuters at Bracknell Station in Berkshire waiting to get on reduced train service 

A busy London Waterloo is pictured this morning as trains begin to arrive crowded and delayed

A busy London Waterloo is pictured this morning as trains begin to arrive crowded and delayed

The RMT walkout to cause chaos in London, Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset. Major engineering works this Christmas in London, the South East and Liverpool are set to lead to fresh misery

The RMT walkout to cause chaos in London, Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset. Major engineering works this Christmas in London, the South East and Liverpool are set to lead to fresh misery

A crowded platform is pictured on day one of the South Western Rail strike

Guildford station is pictured packed before sunrise

Crowded platforms are pictured on day one of the South Western Railway strike 

Frustrated passengers took to Twitter in the early hours to complain about cancellations and delays

Frustrated passengers took to Twitter in the early hours to complain about cancellations and delays

SWR runs 1,850 trains a day across London, Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon. 

It serves London Waterloo, Britain's busiest station.

Some commuters bemoaned 'rude' staff at London Waterloo, arguing staff cannot expect those affected to 'stay calm and behave'. 

Several others expressed their exasperation at fares going up in January after what plans to be a month of chaos. 

This morning's disruption has been worsened by a track circuit failure which hit services between Reading and Ascot, meaning fewer trains were able to run on all lines. The problem is expected to hit services until midday. 

Yesterday commuters were warned to brace themselves for chaos. Key services are being reduced in frequency, some replaced with buses and others cancelled entirely.

The RMT has amassed a £42million war chest to help the 800 train guards taking part in the walkout, which is being held over the threat of driver-only trains.

Some guards could be supported with one-off payments of £1,700 to £2,000, it has been claimed.

Passengers are pictured freezing waiting for delayed trains in Winchester, Hampshire

Passengers are pictured freezing waiting for delayed trains in Winchester, Hampshire 

Others had a more light-hearted approach by posting memes like this one

Others had a more light-hearted approach by posting memes like this one 

Members of the RMT are pictured outside Waterloo claiming 'the strike is all about safety'

Members of the RMT are pictured outside Waterloo claiming 'the strike is all about safety' 

A South Western Railway map shows the extent of the strikes and how they will affect commuters

A South Western Railway map shows the extent of the strikes and how they will affect commuters

Crowds building up due to a reduced service because of an earlier strike by RMT staff on SW Railway Trains in June this year

Crowds building up due to a reduced service because of an earlier strike by RMT staff on SW Railway Trains in June this year 

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Many of the ringleaders have close links to Jeremy Corbyn. They include the RMT's Wessex regional officer, Mick Tosh, who says he has known the Labour leader for 25 years. 

In all, the RMT has donated £130,700 to Labour since 2016, according to the union's accounts. Last month Labour vowed to fulfil the RMT's demands by scrapping driver-only trains and putting a guard on every service in the country.

They are also being supported by Labour's transport spokesman, Andy McDonald, a close Corbyn ally, who said yesterday that he would have 'no difficulty whatsoever' joining SWR workers on the picket line.

How major works will affect Christmas plans 

The worst-hit stations will be in London, the South East and Liverpool, where major work is being completed.

Here is the list of stations affected and the dates on which disruption will hit passengers: 

Ashford -  No Southeastern Highspeed and Eurostar trains from December 26 to 29

Clapham Junction - All routes to London Victoria closed from December 25 to December 31  

Liverpool Lime Street - Reduced services to and from the station, with many trains on diversions

London Euston - Reduced service on most routes  

London King's Cross - Limited trains on December 27

London Liverpool Street - Lines closed over the Christmas period 

London Paddington - Closed between December 24 and 27 in addition to the usual Christmas and Boxing Day closures 

London St Pancras International - Reduced services and buses between Bedford and Kettering 

London Victoria - No journeys to Clapham Junction from Christmas to New Year 

Stratford, East London - Journeys to the City closed over the Christmas period

Guards will strike every day this month except for December 12 – the day of the election – and Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when trains don't run anyway. 

Central to the row are fears over SWR's new fleet of 90 Aventra commuter trains. Guards argue that drivers will be given sole responsibility for closing doors and dispatching the new trains.

SWR had promised to keep the guards on trains by moving them to customer-facing roles – but the RMT says this poses a safety risk to passengers.

This is despite assurances from the rail watchdog that driver-only controls are safe. 

A 'verbal

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