Now rail strike chaos could spread to the South-West

They have only been in charge 11 days... but the new owners of South Western Railway are already facing strike action.

The company is being dragged into the widening dispute over the role of train guards.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union announced yesterday that its members will be balloted over a walkout.

The militant union said SWR, a consortium of First Group and Hong Kong-based MTR, had failed to give a 'water-tight pledge' on the future of guards. The union said it had been met with a 'barrage of spin and prevarication'.

Only 11 days after taking charge, the new owners of South Western Railway are already facing strike action (file photo of Southern Rail strike)

Only 11 days after taking charge, the new owners of South Western Railway are already facing strike action (file photo of Southern Rail strike)

Guards and a small number of drivers will vote on whether to strike and take other action, including refusing to work overtime and on rest days.

The announcement comes as the RMT begins a new round of industrial action on Merseyrail, Northern and Southern today.

The latest dispute is another blow to those using SWR, which has just taken over operating commuter services to Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset and the West Country from London Waterloo.

They have already endured weeks of disruption because of major engineering works taking place at Waterloo.

The project to extend the platforms so they can accommodate longer trains was meant to be completed on Tuesday but passengers have continued to endure delays and cancellations due to signalling problems and other technical issues.

Yesterday SWR said there was a problem with the equipment that connects its signalling centre to equipment in the Wimbledon area.

Passengers have been

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