Christmas train strikes: Crisis talks as union leaders and railway bosses still at loggerheads

19 November 2019, 14:31

The action by SWR train crews would go on for 27 days.
The action by SWR train crews would go on for 27 days. Picture: PA

Crisis talks are taking place to try and prevent 27 days of strikes across many of London's busiest commuter routes in December.

Union leaders and railway bosses remain at loggerheads as they attempt to resolve their dispute over the role of guards on trains and control of train doors.

RMT union leaders and South Western Railway bosses are trying to come to an agreement before the strikes cause chaos for people heading home at Christmas.

The action by SWR staff would affect services from Waterloo, the UK's busiest station, on almost every day in December.

It would also be the longest period of concentrated strike action ever seen on British railways.

Downing Street has condemned the action as “unacceptable”.

The strike would affect all journeys from Waterloo.
The strike would affect all journeys from Waterloo. Picture: PA

Acas, the conciliation service, is bringing the two sides together for the first time since the strikes were ordered two weeks ago on Tuesday.

Based on previous walkouts, more than 16,000 services could be hit.

The union said that the strike would cover every day in December except for Sunday 1 and Thursday 12, when the general election is taking place, and SWR does not run services on Christmas day and Boxing day.

An SWR spokesman said: “We were approached by Acas and are happy to talk.”

The company states it has offered to keep a guard on every train as part of a framework agreement and accused the union of a “misguided attempt to hold power over the industry”.

Mick Cash, the RMT’s general secretary, said: “We enter into these talks in good faith as always, and the trade union will not be providing a running commentary.”