South Western Railway strike: Commuters face rush-hour misery as 16-seat minibus turns up as rail replacement bus service

Cathy Adams

London commuters faced rush-hour misery this morning, as a five-day South Western Railway (SWR) strike kicked off.

At one point, a 16-seater minibus was provided as a rail replacement bus service for a 10-carriage train.

Images flooded social media of passengers packed onto trains and station platforms, and some pictured snaking down high streets to board trains.

SWR workers have walked out from today until 23.59 on 22 June in a long-running dispute about guards on trains.

At Surbiton station, passengers shared pictures of people queueing for 200 metres down the high street as they waited to board services.

Passengers shared images of empty rails and packed carriages.

One passenger complained that a 16-seater minibus turned up as a replacement bus service.

“We are working with bus operators to provide as many replacement services as possible. In the vast majority of cases, these are single or double deckers,” a South Western Railway spokesperson told The Independent.

“In a few instances this has involved using 16 seat coaches to help our passengers complete their journeys. On the few occasions where we use these types of vehicles we try to double up the number.”

South Western Railway runs services from London Waterloo to destinations in Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire, with London commuters heavily affected. Travellers to Royal Ascot, which starts today, will also be affected.

A reduced service will run on most of the network for the next five days. Some routes will not have any trains, nor run a rail replacement service.

SWR says it has laid on extra trains to cope with Ascot demand, although it advises passengers to leave extra time to board services.

The strike has been called by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).