South Western Railway boss in talks with RMT over strikes

Mark Hopwood
Image caption Mark Hopwood spoke on BBC Radio Surrey's breakfast programme

The new boss of strike-hit South Western Railway (SWR) is in fresh talks with a union to try to avoid further industrial action.

A dispute over the role of guards started more than two years ago between the train operator and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

It led to 27 days of strike action in December, including on New Year's Eve.

SWR boss Mark Hopwood said he and RMT general secretary Mick Cash had "agreed we will talk again".

The train company wants drivers to operate the doors at every stop to save time on new trains due to start running later this year.

Union members want guards to decide when to close the doors.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Passengers have faced packed carriages during the December strike

Mr Hopwood, formerly managing director of Great Western Railway, told the BBC: "We had a very brief conversation and recognised that we need to do more work and we've agreed that we will talk again.

"I absolutely want to settle this, but I'm not going to settle it in a way that compromises the way we run the railway for our customers in the future."

The operator runs services between London Waterloo and Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth as well as Reading, Exeter and Bristol. It also operates suburban commuter lines in south-west London, Surrey, Berkshire, and north-east Hampshire.

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