Commuters are facing disruption as workers on South Western Railway (SWR) begin a 27-day strike. It 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 operator called the action “unnecessary”. It said “more than half” of weekday trains will run and warned of queues at stations. The union said the strike was “in defence of passenger safety”.

The RMT said SWR “point-blank refused” to show any serious movement at talks held at the conciliation service Acas.

The union has been demanding that guards should oversee the operation of doors and perform other safety functions in dispatching trains.

It says the company’s proposals would leave guards as “glorified porters” without any safety responsibilities.