The MP for Epsom and Ewell has slammed the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union for being driven by “self-interest and cynicism” in a statement released to the Comet today.

The RMT guards’ strike has brought thousands of services to a standstill, with a third of services cancelled from October 23 to 27.

The strike is part of an ongoing row about plans to remove guards from trains, which the union fears would put passengers at risk.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP said: “The self-interest and cynicism at the heart of the RMT’s latest strikes, deliberately manufactured to cause maximum disruption to hardworking commuters and families trying to enjoy half-term, is simply breath-taking.

“The pretence that this has anything to do with jobs or safety is an utter sham, and the RMT know it. The independent rail regulator has said driver-controlled trains are safe. SWR have offered guarantees about jobs and pay beyond 2024, and have been clear that there will be more guards on trains.

“With both turnout in their ballots and people voting in favour of strikes falling since they first called for action on SWR last October, it’s clear even the RMT know it’s time to put passengers first.”

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: "Chris Grayling has repeatedly refused to meet the union to discuss the crisis on Britain's railways while violence and sexual assaults have surged to record levels on his watch.

"Instead of attacking front line rail workers fighting for safety, security and access on South Western Railway he should be hanging his head in shame.

"RMT is prepared to meet Mr Grayling any time, any place, anywhere to address the fundamental issues at the heart of this dispute."

Mr Cash added: He is failing both his constituents and the country on an epic scale through his gross mismanagement of Britain's rip-off railways and its time he got a grip."