Sign failure compounds distress for strike-hit South…

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Rail passengers on routes hit by a guards strike were advised not to travel on Wednesday because of a signal failure.

South Western Railway services were already being disrupted by the second day of a five-day walkout by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

The company said in a message to passengers: “Due to a major fault with Network Rail signalling systems between Woking and Surbiton, trains are unable to run on this line through to London Waterloo.

“We are advising all passengers who travel on the mainline (services from Weymouth, West of England, Portsmouth) and suburban (from Guildford to Waterloo) services that run through these stations, not to travel and to check for updates.”

Network Rail fixed the signalling fault shortly before 11am but passengers were advised to expect disruption through the rest of the day.

The union said the strike continued to be solidly supported.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “On the second of the five days of strikes in this current phase of action on South Western Railway, RMT members remain rock-solid and determined this morning in the fight to put public safety before private profit.

“There is only one way to break the deadlock in this dispute and that is through South Western Railway agreeing to RMT’s call for talks and sitting down with us to negotiate around the guard guarantee which matches the widespread best practice in the industry.”

SWR sent another message to passengers saying all lines in the Woking area and part of Basingstoke station will be closed all day on Sunday for track maintenance.

The signal failure caused travel chaos for tens of thousands of passengers.

Many vented their anger and frustration on social media, with a stream of complaints about being late for work and missing appointments or connecting rail services to other parts of the UK.

One woman said she was an hour late in a new job on Tuesday because of the guards strike and did not know when she would get in on Wednesday.

Passengers were also crowded on trains which were halted by the signal failure.

The disruption followed days of delays on trains into London Paddington last week after a test train brought down overhead lines.

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