• Union workers stage 24 and 48 hour walkouts over ongoing driver-only train dispute.
  • Southern, South Western, Greater Anglia and Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North all affected.

Commuters across the UK have faced severe travel disruptions following an RMT union strike strike which has affected five rail operators.

Workers on the Southern, South Western Railway and Greater Anglia are staging a 48-hour strike starting Wednesday morning (8 November), while a 24-hour walk-out will be held by staff at Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North.

The strike is part of an ongoing dispute between union workers and rail companies and driver-only operated (DOO) trains, which started on Southern railway routes and has continued onto other operators.

Passengers were warned that many services will be severely disrupted during the walk-out and advised to seek alternative travel arrangements.

Merseyrail and Northern warned early morning and evening services will be cancelled, but expect to run most trains between 7am and 7pm. Greater Anglia and Southern said they hope to run a near normal service but South Western, one of the most popular trains into London, will only operate at around 60%, with the trains that are running expected to be much busier than normal.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the union workers are "standing rock solid" across the country on the morning of the latest strike action.

He added: "Political and public support is flooding in as our communities choose to stand by their guards against the financially and politically motivated drive to throw safety-critical staff off our trains. The union salutes the members who are standing firm this morning for a safe and accessible railway for all.

"It is frankly sickening that Chris Grayling and his supporters are prepared to sit back and cheer on overseas operators who are robbing British passengers blind while sacrificing basic safety standards in order to subsidise transport services in Paris, Amsterdam and Hong Kong‎.

"It's time for the Government to lift the dead hand which is preventing rail companies from negotiating deals like the ones we have successfully struck in Wales and Scotland that‎ guarantee a guard on the trains. If it's good enough for Scotland and Wales it's good enough for the rest of Britain."

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: "This dispute is not about jobs or safety - employees have been guaranteed jobs and salaries. In fact, at Southern Rail, where these changes have already been introduced, there are now more staff on trains.

"The independent rail regulator has said driver-controlled trains, which have been used in this country for more than 30 years, are safe."

Rail strike
Five rail operators are facing disruption due to strike action by the RMT union Getty