South Western Railway (SWR) is urging customers to check before they travel and expect disruption from Sunday 18 December to Monday 2 January due to industrial action by members of the RMT and TSSA unions during this period.  

This action includes a ban on RMT members working overtime or on rest days and affects people in a variety of roles, including guards on trains as well as dispatchers on platforms and shunters in our depots. This means that SWR’s ability to operate train services is significantly limited throughout the extended period of industrial action. 

On some dates across this period there are also major engineering works taking place which further complicates the planning of services. 

Due to the knock-on impact of RMT strike action and long-planned engineering works, customers are urged to only travel if absolutely necessary on 18 December. There will be a severely reduced service on a very limited number of routes, from 0700 to 2200 only, consisting of:

  • Four trains per hour in each direction between London Waterloo and Woking
  • Two trains per hour in each direction between London Waterloo and Basingstoke
  • Two trains per hour in each direction between London Waterloo and Southampton Central
  • One train per hour between Basingstoke and Salisbury

Trains will not stop at all the stations on some of these routes. There will be no SWR services across the rest of the network on 18 December. 

Due to strike action affecting Network Rail, limiting the infrastructure available to SWR to run services, customers are also urged to only travel if absolutely necessary on 24 and 27 December. 

On 24 December (Christmas Eve), there will be a reduced service with an early shutdown. Some last services from London Waterloo will leave as early as midday, with all services finished and trains taken out of service by 1500. On 27 December, there will be a late start-up from around 1200 followed by a reduced service.

Customers who have no choice but to travel should check the SWR website to see which services are running on these days.  

For the rest of the industrial action period, from 19 to 23 December and from 28 December to 2 January, SWR will run a reduced service from 0700 to 2200 only and customers should check their whole journey before they travel, as some parts of the network will be closed. 

South Western Railway’s Performance and Planning Director, Steve Tyler, said:

“We are very sorry that the RMT overtime ban will severely disrupt our customers travel plans throughout the Christmas period and into the New Year.  

“While not a strike, the overtime ban limits the number of trains we can get into service each day and we have had to make some difficult decisions to be able to provide a reliable and consistent service throughout the period. 

“We are urging customers to check their entire journey before setting off and thank them for their patience and cooperation during this damaging industrial action by the RMT.”

In addition, the RMT has announced that its members at Network Rail and train operating companies including SWR will be taking strike action on 3, 4, 6, and 7 January 2023. 

SWR will update customers once it has confirmed what service levels it can provide during this period. 

Summary of SWR travel advice from 18 December to 2 January:

  • Sunday 18 December – only travel if absolutely necessary
  • Monday 19 to Friday 23 December – check before you travel
  • Saturday 24 December – only travel if absolutely necessary
  • Sunday 25 and Monday 26 December – no service
  • Tuesday 27 December – only travel if absolutely necessary
  • Wednesday 28 to Monday 2 January – check before you travel

Customers are urged to check the SWR website for the latest travel advice for each day of the industrial action at: