Rail Services will be hit by the biggest disruption in decades today because of strikes against five operators in bitter disputes over the role of guards.
Hundreds of services will be cancelled, replacement buses will be laid on and services that do run will be busier than normal, passengers have been warned.
The biggest disruption is threatened at SWR, which only took over the franchise from South West Trains in August, with more than a third of services set to be hit.
A Transport Department spokesman said: “The RMT is attempting to disrupt passengers as part of its political game. However, rail companies are keeping passengers moving with the large majority of services running as planned.
“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.”
Labour has told the five rail operators that the party would halt any future plans to extend driver-only operations if it won the next General Election.
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said in a letter that guards are vital for duties such as helping passengers who need assistance. Mr McDonald said Labour believed the railways should aspire to the safest possible method of train despatch.