Strike action has resumed on South Western Railway (SWR) as part of a long-running dispute over train guards.
SWR is cancelling 800 trains a day until the end of Monday – about half its services – following the walkout by National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) members.
The union accused SWR of “rowing back on their public pledges” about the future function of guards.
The operator said it was “committed to finding a solution” to the dispute.
SWR, which runs services between London and Bristol, Exeter, Portsmouth, Reading and Weymouth, has been in dispute with the RMT since November 2017.
The union said its members were “rock solid and united” in supporting the action.
Travellers took to social media to complain about delays and crowded trains on the first morning of the strike.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said members had no choice but to continue the action because of the company’s “unremitting failure” to rule out driver-only operation.
“They are angry and frustrated that SWR have kicked talks into the long grass and failed to bolt down an agreement that will guarantee the role of the guard on the train,” he said.
“Our members believe that they are being mugged off by the company in protracted talks.”
SWR said: “The RMT has always said it wanted us to keep the guard on every train which is what we have offered as part of a framework agreement.
“We want to move the conversation on to how we operate our new trains and take advantage of the new technology on board to benefit our customers.”
By Paul Clifton, BBC South transport correspondent
Over the next four days, a few hundred guards will disrupt services that carry more than 100,000 passengers a day.
If you think you’ve heard it all before – yes, you have, on the 34 previous strike days. Since the first strike back in November 2017, almost nothing has changed.
The company says it will have a guard on every train – including on 750 new carriages that have yet to be built, which will be technically capable of “driver-controlled operation” without a guard.
But the two sides cannot agree about exactly what the guard’s specific duties would be on the new trains.
Two years into this troubled franchise, for passengers things are still not getting better.
The annual Bournemouth Air Festival – which began on Thursday and attracts up to one million people – is one of the weekend events that could be affected by the strike.
Spokeswoman Grace Loveless said: “Obviously we’d like people to take public transport so it’s a bit of a shame, but we do work closely with South Western Railways and they’ll be committed to helping where they can.”
The union has previously reached agreement with Greater Anglia over the future of guards.
The British Airways strike next month is to cause at least five consecutive days of flight cancellations.
BA pilots announced three days of strikes – taking place on 9, 10 and 27 September – in a dispute over pay.
Despite the first strikes being on 9 and 10 September, some customers flying between the 8th and 12th have been told their flight has been cancelled – and to rebook or get a refund.
However, many people have said they have been unable to get through to BA.
BA said in a statement: “We are doing absolutely everything we can to prevent this unfair action from taking place and ruining our customers’ travel plans.
“Airlines have a very complex operation and during times of widespread disruption, there can be knock-on effects onto flights on other days.”
Customers have reported receiving emails late on Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday morning informing them their flight had been cancelled.
Many have taken to social media to complain that they have been unable to rebook via the website or get through on BA’s phone lines.
Abby Deem, 32, from Cambridge said her honeymoon plans had been “ruined” after her business class flight to Mauritius on 9 September was cancelled.
“We’ve been looking forward to this flight for a year,” she said.
“Neither of us have ever had the luxury to travel business class, and after the wedding it seemed the perfect way to start our honeymoon.”
She said she felt sick when her fiance Jonathan got a text to say the flight had been cancelled.
They have now booked economy flights with Emirates and they estimate it will cost them an extra £500.
Another customer, Anna Redding, was due to fly to Nairobi with her partner for their honeymoon on 11 September and return on 27 September – when the final strike is scheduled to take place.
They received an email saying their outward flight had been cancelled, and their return flight had been delayed.
She said they had also saved up to upgrade to first class flights as it was a “once in a lifetime” holiday.
They have been unable to get through to BA on the phone and she said the advice is unclear, adding: “Do we try to get another flight with someone else but lose the first class or do we wait just in case but risk not getting any other flights?”
The company’s Twitter feed was inundated with messages from frustrated customers, with some saying their cancelled flights were still on sale.
In response to one customer, BA said some flights before and after the strike were “still subject to disruption due to operational reasons, including crew rostering and positioning of aircraft”.
Travel expert Simon Calder explained it had turned into five successive days of cancellations because BA would not send a flight to, for example, Hong Kong, if a pilot was going to go on strike the next day.
He also said BA has to find customers “an alternative flight on the same day if it possibly can, even if it means buying you a ticket on another airline”.
If you are delayed overnight, he said BA has to pay for a hotel and meals.
He added: “The worst thing you can do is take a full refund because then you will be buying another ticket yourself and that could well cost more.”
BA says it carries 145,000 customers every day, with a fleet of more than 280 aircraft.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said on Friday the strikes were a “last resort” born out of “enormous frustration” with airline management.
Pilots have rejected a pay increase worth 11.5% over three years, which the airline put forward in July.
What can I claim if my flight has been affected by the strikes?
If your flight has been cancelled because airline staff are striking, the the Civil Aviation Authority said, then this would be considered within the airline’s control, and therefore you have a legal right to either:
- A full refund, and this includes flights in the same journey that might be from a different airline (for example, an onward or return flight)
- A replacement flight to get to your destination
- Or, if you are part way through your journey and don’t want a replacement flight, you are entitled to a flight back to the airport you originally departed from
In some cases, passengers may be entitled to additional cash compensation for the inconvenience – but only if you receive notice that your flight is affected less than 14 days before departure.
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways: