Clive Bull 1am - 5am
South Western Railway workers vote to continue strike action in guards dispute
23 January 2020, 19:20
South Western Railway workers have voted to continue strike action in the long-running row over guards on trains.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union have held dozens of strikes over the past two years amid the dispute over safety.
In the latest vote – the sixth over the issue - members backed more walkouts by 416, with 88 voting against.
The turnout was 59 per cent, well above the legal threshold for industrial action ballots.
They previously took industrial action for almost all of December, slashing the number of services across the network.
A spokesman for South Western Railway said: "We are obviously disappointed with the result, although it should be noted that less than half of eligible RMT members voted for strike action.
"On this basis we hope the RMT will use the next few weeks as a window of opportunity to work with us to find a solution so that our passengers do not suffer more unnecessary disruption.
"Similar proposals to the ones we have made are already in place with numerous operators across London and the South East, and we have already promised that we will keep guards with a safety critical role on all our trains."
The RMT made no immediate comment on the ballot result and has not announced any fresh strikes.
Hopes had risen earlier this month of talks to try to break the deadlock, but the two sides have not met since last year.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday that SWR's franchise was now "not sustainable" after the company announced a £137 million loss.
He outlined possible contingency measures including a short-term contract to SWR's owners or moving its operations to the Department for Transport.