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 hitting southern England begins

  • Rail commuters bemoan crowding as month of strikes begins
  • All you need to know about the South Western Railway strike
  • Are you taking part or affected by the strike?

12.53pm GMT

The Guardian transport correspondent, Gwyn Topham, has been on the ground speaking to frustrated commuters. Here is his latest report:

Commuters who found seats described “horrendous” journeys. Richard Clarke, from Farncombe, on a delayed 7.01am train to Waterloo, said: “I am on the 7.01 and it is horrendous, full and standing … No one could even force their way on once we arrived at Woking.”

Passengers expressed anger that SWR laid on shorter trains than usual. Clare Moriarty, permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU, tweeted the train operator: “I cannot believe that on a strike day when there are only two trains from my station in the peak hour you have *shortened* train length by a third. Please have some thought for your passengers.”

Related: Rail commuters bemoan crowding as South Western begins month of strikes

11.59am GMT

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.”

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