South Western Railway strike: travel misery continues as commuters face long queues at stations for second day

Bonnie Christian

London rail passengers were left queueing around the block as thousands of commuters faced a second day of travel chaos during South Western Railway (SWR) staff's continued strike over the role of train guards.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union on SWR launched a five-day walkout on Tuesday, causing misery for tens of thousands of travellers, including commuters into London Waterloo station.

Buses again replaced trains on some routes on Wednesday, with up to half of SWR's services affected by the industrial action.

Commuters at East Putney station in south-west London were among those worst affected, with queues down the street due to a combination of the strikes and tube outages.

Local MP Justine Greening tweeted from outside the station: "@TfL and @MayorofLondon - this morning there are no tubes from East Putney station and no @SW-Railway trains - it's a nightmare for my community to get to work. It's totally unacceptable for London's transport system."

SWR said there will be reduced services to London Waterloo but that some additional services across the network will operate during the morning and evening peak travelling times.

Queues at East Putney station. (Tim Rye/PA)

“If you are travelling to Hampton Court Palace Music Festival or Royal Ascot, additional services will be running between London Waterloo and Reading and London Waterloo and Hampton Court. Queueing systems will be in place at some stations during these events, so it may take extra time to board your train,” the SWR website said.

Commuters faced long queues for a second day in a row. (Tim Rye/PA )

There were chaotic scenes at stations on on the first day of the strike, including Surbiton in south-west London, where passengers were forced to wait in a huge 200m queue that snaked from the platforms through the station concourse and down the road.

Some passengers at Surbiton said they were told to return hours later on Tuesday because so many people were trying to get into the station.

Queues form outside stations on first day of strike.(Evening Standard )

RMT general secretary Mick Cash, who joined a picket line at Waterloo on Tuesday, said union members were "solidly supporting" the strike.

He added: "RMT has campaigned relentlessly for the principle of putting safety on the railway first and the current stalemate over the safety-critical role of the guard on SWR trains cannot be allowed to drag on any longer.

Strike timetable from South Western Railway. (South Western Railway)

"Our members have been left with no choice but to go ahead with strike action throughout this week. They are angry and frustrated that despite suspending action in good faith, and entering into talks in a positive and constructive manner, South Western Railway have dragged their heels and failed to bolt down an agreement that matches up to our expectations on the guard guarantee.

"We thank the public for their continuing support and understanding that this dispute is all about safety, access and passenger service on Britain's increasingly violent and dangerous railways."

Some passengers at Surbiton said they were told to return hours later on Tuesday because so many people were trying to get into the station.

Passengers between Egham and Staines faced further delays because of a swan on the railway line.

A huge queue to get onto the platform at Surbiton station (@leftforbed/Twitter)

A South Western Railway spokesman said: "We are sorry that customers faced long queues at Surbiton station. While we are doing all we can to keep passengers moving during this unnecessary industrial action, Surbiton station is one of our busiest stations and we need to keep passengers safe by controlling access to the platforms.

"Passengers are strongly advised to avoid busy peak periods and travel on earlier or later trains because of the reduction in services at key stations like Surbiton.

"We are looking to see if we can improve the number of services calling at Surbiton station in order to minimise further disruption during this strike action."