Commuters demand a REFUND as South Western Railway strike continues

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Rail passengers complained of 'ridiculous overcrowding' and delayed trains today as hundreds of thousands faced a second day of disruption due to strike action.

Commuters endured the second of 27 planned days of mayhem as South Western Railway had to cancel 850 trains across swathes of London and southern England.

The unprecedented action is part of the Labour-backed Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union's long-running dispute over the role of guards on driver-only trains.

Fed-up passengers demanded a refund from SWR bosses, claiming the strike-hit service this month is 'not fit for a modern country' and is making them late for work.

One commuter from Haslemere in Surrey posted this picture today of an overcrowded train

One commuter from Haslemere in Surrey posted this picture today of an overcrowded train

One commuter claimed the South Western Railway service was reduced to two trains per hour and then both were cancelled from Worcester Park near Sutton in South London this morning

One commuter claimed the South Western Railway service was reduced to two trains per hour and then both were cancelled from Worcester Park near Sutton in South London this morning

South Western Railway reveals the extent of the strikes and how they are affecting commuters

South Western Railway reveals the extent of the strikes and how they are affecting commuters

A signal failure between Fulwell and Shepperton caused further delays today with passengers told services may be cancelled, delayed or changed at short notice.

The strike by 900 guards has wrecked the travel plans of an estimated 600,000 passengers, costing businesses in the capital up to £400million in total.

Why the strike action is over the role of guards 

Some 800 train guards are taking part in the 27 days of strike action on South Western Railway, which is being held over the threat of driver-only trains.

Guards claim drivers will be given sole responsibility for closing doors and dispatching a fleet of 90 new trains – a move intended to give the guards more time to deal with passengers.

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

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

Talks between the two sides collapsed last week, with the union and SWR blaming each other for the failure to reach a deal.

But the RMT has already agreed to a nearly identical change on the Greater Anglia network next year – as well as similar conditions on Crossrail in London when it finally opens in 2021.

But the RMT said its SWR members were 'standing firm' on the strikes, claiming it was 'frankly ludicrous for the company to simply jam their heads in the sand'.

Passenger Daniel Jenkins, of Woking, Surrey, tweeted: 'Where do I claim back my December month in my yearly season pass? Service is unsafe, unreliable and not fit for a modern country.'

And Daniel Chapman tweeted to SWR: 'Why am I paying for ticket when you have strike action on? I'm massively late for work so how do I get a refund please?'

Jamil Zakaria added: 'A month of reduced services due to strikes is a month of queuing in freezing weather. Not really acceptable.'

Last night, the Tories warned the strike was a 'taste of things to come' should Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister after next week's General Election.

The RMT, which has donated £130,700 to the Labour party since 2016, has helped to bankroll Mr Corbyn's leadership bid.

Meanwhile, Labour is pushing plans to make it easier for trade unions to take industrial action with a rollback of anti-strike laws.

The party has already promised to fulfil the RMT's demands by scrapping driver-only trains and putting a guard on every service in the country.

As commuters faced another day of chaos, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Daily Mail: 'As a frustrated rail commuter myself, I want more trains to run on time. 

How will YOUR journey be affected by strikes? 
Basingstoke to London Waterloo (stopping service): Reduced service with one train per hour Alton to London Waterloo: Reduced service with one train per hour Woking to London Waterloo (stopping service): Two trains per hour Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier: Reduced service with two trains per hour Salisbury to London Waterloo: Reduced service with one train per hour Salisbury to Exeter St Davids: Reduced service with one train every two hours. Buses every hour between Honiton and Exeter St Davids Salisbury to Bristol Temple Meads: No service Ascot to Aldershot: Buses every hour Aldershot to Guildford: No service Portsmouth Harbour to London Waterloo via Guildford: Reduced service with two trains per hour Southampton Central to Fratton: One train per hour (not Swaythling) Portsmouth to Basingstoke (and Waterloo): One train per hour Epsom to London Waterloo: Two trains per hour Epsom to Dorking: No service Guildford to London Waterloo via Cobham and Stoke d'Abernon: One train per hour Effingham Junction and Epsom: Buses every hour Hampton Court to London Waterloo: Two trains per hour Chessington South to London Waterloo: Reduced service with one train per hour Kingston to Shepperton: One train per hour London Waterloo to London Waterloo via Strawberry Hill: Normal service with two trains per hour London Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside via Hounslow: Two trains per hour London Waterloo to Reading: Two trains per hour London Waterloo to Weybridge via Staines: No service Virginia Water and Weybridge: Buses every hour London Waterloo to Bournemouth: One train per hour Southampton Central and Bournemouth: One stopping service per hour Bournemouth to Weymouth: One shuttle service every hour Salisbury to Romsey via Southampton Central: No service

'December's strikes are just a taste of things to come if Labour win power on the 12th.'

He added: 'This is about politics pure and simple. 

'The RMT leadership, who donate to Mr Corbyn, are trying to interfere with the election and are holding passengers to ransom who are just trying to get to work or home to kids.'

This SWR strikes, by guards who fear they will lose their jobs to driver-only trains, will not take place on Election Day on December 12, Christmas and Boxing Day.

SWR has drafted in 250 'contingency' guards, including staff who normally work in admin roles. 

This has allowed it to run around 1,000 of its 1,850 weekday trains.

But the drastically reduced service yesterday saw passengers queue for an hour in the freezing cold before 'fighting' their way on to packed trains.

Others were locked out of over-crowded stations entirely or piled on to rail replacement buses.

To add to the chaos, travellers said the number of carriages on key services had been reduced.

Jackie Hulme, 50, who works in consulting and pays £240 for a season pass, said: 'It was disastrous. For me, the worst thing is the cost of the tickets.

'It is so expensive and then you are packed like sardines. It is too awful for words. 

'And to think we will experience that for the whole month is just shocking.'

Jo Castle, an IT worker at Network Rail, added: 'I just think RMT are bringing the public into their bun fight and it's not fair. 

'I hate the fact RMT are holding us hostage.'

Clare Moriarty, of the Department for Exiting the European Union, tweeted: 'I cannot believe that on a strike day when there are only two trains from my station in the peak hour you have shortened train length by a third.

'Please have some thought for your passengers.'

As commuters battled to get to work, politicians and union chiefs blamed each other for the chaos.

Andy McDonald, Labour's transport spokesman, told LBC: 'Right across the country, those issues have been resolved to everybody's satisfaction. 

'Putting those safety-critical guards on trains has happened everywhere.

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'Yet South Western, who had an agreement with the trade union, have reneged on that agreement and we now find ourselves in that terrible situation.' 

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

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: 'Our members are solidly supporting the second day of this phase of strike action and are standing firm the length and breadth of the franchise in defence of the role of the guard, accessibility and the safest method of

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