NEWS
28/07/2018 15:02 BST | Updated 28/07/2018 15:58 BST

South Western Railway And Eurostar Rail Workers Stage 24-Hour Strike Amid Travel Chaos

'Dangerous overcrowding ‎and appalling working conditions.'

Rail workers at South Western Railway and Eurostar went on a 24-hour strike over separate disputes on Saturday as travel chaos sparked by the weather continued to frustrate travellers. 

RMT union members at Eurostar protested over “dangerous” overcrowding at London’s St Pancras station where today they held up signs saying “get back on track listen to your passengers and staff” and “draw the line, safety first”.

Eurostar said a normal service will run as other workers will cover the shifts.

The SWR strike is over the long-running dispute about the role of train guards with the company saying half of its services - in south-west London and southern counties of England - will be cancelled.

It “strongly advised” passengers to check their journey before travelling.

Meanwhile waits of up to five hours were expected for those attempting to cross the Channel Tunnel, while people heading to mainland Europe by ferry were told to expect tailbacks. “Extreme temperatures” were cited as a reason for the disruption.

The SWR strike is part of eight days of action between July and August. The first strike was last Thursday. The next is on Tuesday. 

Both strikes are due to end just before midnight. 

The RMT claims changing the role of guards and extending driver-only services would compromise staff and passenger safety and has accused the company of putting “private profits before public safety”.

SWR said in a statement on Friday that it was “frustrating and disappointing” that the RMT strike was going ahead and apologised to passengers.

“This is despite proposals we have put forward which are similar to that of another train operator, Greater Anglia, which the RMT has recently agreed to.

“We are urging the RMT to return to talks and end this damaging disruption to passengers.”

About 140 staff are involved in the Eurostar dispute, with the union saying the international terminal at St Pancras had been reduced to “chaos”.

Staff were bearing the brunt of public anger over delays to services, it said.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT Eurostar members have had enough of the company ignoring the dangerous overcrowding ‎and appalling working conditions at St Pancras and our SWR members are continuing the fight to put public safety before private profit. That is the common thread that unites both these disputes.

“RMT will not tolerate a position where our members are left to pick up the pieces due to corporate failures.”