South Western Railway strike: commuters face misery as walkout begins – live updates

All the latest news and reaction as the first of a month-long series of strikes to hit southern England begins

A 40-year-old train driver employed by SWR, with nearly 20 years of rail experience, described guards as “the human face of the railway, ensuring there is a safe, secure and accessible environment”.

The driver, who wished to remain anonymous, got in touch with the Guardian to call on more drivers to support the strike. He said: “Running a train without a guard is akin to flying a plane with no cabin crew: 99.99% of journeys would occur without incident, but if and when something does go wrong, the consequences are much more likely to be catastrophic.”

The Liberal Democrat candidate Monica Harding, who is running against Dominic Raab in Esher and Walton, has called on the RMT and South Western Railway (SWR) to end the strike impasse. Residents in the constituency depend heavily on SWR to commute into central London.

In a recent blogpost, Harding said: “Under the Tories, Esher and Walton commuters have been catastrophically let down. People are paying way over the odds for what has often been an appalling service and fixing this is high on their list of priorities. Yet Dominic Raab has done little to represent them and even his voting record shows he has consistently voted against slowing the rises to rail fares.”

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