COMMUTERS using South Western Railway services will have to suffer two further dates of strike action by unions representing train guards.

South Western Railway has confirmed that members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will walk out between 10am on March 9 and 9.59am on March 10.

They plan to strike again between 10am on March 12 and 9.59am on March 13.

The company operates routes between London Waterloo, Reading, Bristol, Exeter, Weymouth, Portsmouth and on the Isle of Wight.

They will affect commuters travelling to and from Bath Spa, Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury and Warminster, and also from Frome, Bruton and Castle Cary.

The strike action is being held in a long-running dispute between the train operator and the RMT over the role of guards on trains.

It is the sixth time that SWR's staff have voted for industrial action in the past two-and-a-half years.

The most recent strike, which lasted for 27 days in December, disrupted 600,000 passenger journeys each day, leaving commuters angry and frustrated.

Mick Cash, RMT's general secretary, said the union's members had been left with "no choice" but to take industrial action again and praised workers' "incredible amount of solidarity" during the dispute.

He added: "We are appalled by management's bullying and harassment tactics in their attempt to get our members to return to work.

"The company's constant barrage of lengthy letters every time our guard members take legal and legitimate industrial action is intimidating, degrading, humiliating and offensive."

SWR, which is introducing new trains that allow drivers to operate the doors instead of guards, said the union should be "talking, not striking".

A spokesman said: "We have guaranteed to keep a guard on every train, but it is vital that we use the most efficient means of dispatch when we introduce our new trains so that we can deliver the improved performance our customers so desperately need."