RAILWAY workers have voted ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour of going on strike in a dispute over guards on South Western Railway (SWR) trains.

Member of the RMT union are in a dispute which over the future of guards on SWR trains, saying their removal would cause issues with rail safety.

More than 80 per cent of members on SWR have voted to strike on a turnout of over 76 per cent with even higher numbers voting for action short of a strike.

RMT say the vote come after a failure by SWR franchise holder First MTR to give clear assurances over the future of guards on their trains.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “RMT has given repeated opportunities for First MTR to give us the assurances we have sought over the future role of the guards on their trains throughout the length of the new South Western franchise. They have refused to give us those guarantees and it is that failure which left RMT with no option but to declare a formal dispute with the company and to conduct a ballot for action.

“Our members have now voted overwhelmingly for both strike action and action short of a strike and that massive mandate will now be considered by RMT’s executive who will decide the next steps.”

SWR said it wanted to avoid strike action and any unnecessary disruption to rail services for customers and that it is ‘disappointed’ that staff voted as such.

A spokesperson from SWR said: “We have been clear that we plan to retain a second person on our services, as we know that our passengers value the assurance and assistance a second member of on-board staff provides.

“We aim to deliver improvements for passengers throughout the SWR franchise including more trains, quicker journeys, and earlier and later services. Today’s announcement undermines those efforts. We urge the RMT to avoid premature strike action and work with us to deliver for our customers.”

No dates for the proposed strike action has been set.