London, Workers for South Western Railway (SWR), a British train operating company, began their 27-day strike on Monday, causing chaos for an estimated 16 million commuters.
The unprecedented industrial action means 850 SWR trains will be cancelled every day on one of the country’s busiest rail networks, The Daily Mail reported.
SWR runs 1,850 trains a day across London, Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon. It serves London Waterloo, Britain’s busiest station.
The strike comes after talks between the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and SWR over a long-running dispute over guards on trains broke down, the BBC said.
The union has been demanding that guards should oversee the operation of doors and perform other safety functions in dispatching trains.
The company’s proposals would leave guards as “glorified porters” without any safety responsibilities, the union added.
Managing director of SWR Andy Mellors said the action was “unnecessary” but the issue needed settled before a new fleet of modern suburban trains is introduced next year.
“We’ve been very clear that we’re committed to keeping a guard on our trains and those guards will have safety critical competencies. Our proposals will make guards more customer facing and improve safety, security and accessibility.”
Frustrated passengers on freezing cold platforms took to Twitter on Monday morningto complain about overcrowding, cancellations and delays.