A 48-hour strike by Southern Rail staff has been announced as the long-running dispute between rail chiefs and union bosses continues to rumble on.
Train guards are set to walk out from from 12.01am on the morning of Wednesday September 7 until 11.59pm on Thursday September 8.
The rail union RMT, which announced the strike action on Tuesday (August 22), accused Southern bosses of "walking away" from talks and attempting to "bulldoze through" controversial changes.
But Southern hit back, branding the strike action "unnecessary, unjustified and futile", and claiming passengers and staff alike would be "appalled" by the decision.
A five-day strike planned for earlier this month was called off at the eleventh hour after talks resumed.
The RMT and Southern operator Govia-Thameslink Railway (GTR) are locked in a bitter dispute over plans for drivers to monitor the opening and closing of doors via CCTV - a role currently performed by guards and conductors.
GTR says the proposals are safe and will not lead to job losses or a reduction in salary, but the union claims the changes would jeopardise the safety of passengers and staff.
Southern Rail is already operating an emergency timetable , with reduced services across its network.
'Action forced on us by arrogance and inaction'
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "This action has been forced on us by the arrogance and inaction of Govia Thameslink and the government who have made it clear that they have no interest in resolving this dispute or in tackling the daily chaos on Southern.
"Instead they have begun the process of bulldozing through the drive towards wholesale Driver Only Operation without agreement and without any concern for the impact on safety, security and disability access."
"Our fight is with the company and the government who have dragged this franchise into total meltdown.
"We share the anger and frustration of passengers and we cannot sit back while jobs and safety are compromised on these dangerously overcrowded trains."
'Claims of safety risk untrue'
Southern passenger service director Alex Foulds said: "Passengers and staff will once again be appalled by the RMT's decision to hold yet another strike.
"We are moving forward with our plans for the benefit of customers after nine months of fruitless attempts to reach an agreement.
"This action is unnecessary, unjustified and futile – we have guaranteed all our onboard staff a job until the end of the franchise, as valued members of our future operation, with no reduction in salary.
"And claims that safety is at risk are just untrue. The independent rail safety body has said so, and nearly half our trains run without conductors already."
'Passengers should not be made to suffer further'
Rail minister Paul Maynard said: "This will be disappointing news for passengers who should not be made to suffer any further disruption from strikes or other unjustified action.
"I hope all parties can find a way to work together to deliver a modern railway, with the additional capacity and improved performance passengers want."