SOUTH Western Rail has hit out at the RMT trades union claiming it has 'moved the goalposts' by changing its position over the month-long strike which is due to spike travel misery for commuters in Dorset and Hampshire for a month starting next week.

However, the union is claiming the lack of settlement is 'politically motivated' because, it alleges, the rail company is set to get a tax payer bailout of £86 million for strike action to date and over the coming weeks to cover lost passenger revenue.

In a statement, SWR said: "We have done everything we can and more to meet the RMT’s outdated demands with our promise of a guard on every train, and a safety critical role for that guard.

"What we are not prepared to compromise on is the much needed modernisation of the service with improved performance, safety and customer service that our new fleet of modern suburban trains will vitally deliver for customers. We know our passengers will welcome over 10 million more passenger journeys a year arriving on time and this much needed improvement to our service is too important to compromise."

The rail company, which has said it will try to maintain just over half the scheduled services for the strike, which starts on Sunday, added: "Throughout negotiations we have tried repeatedly to find ways meet the RMT’s aspirations. However, every time we find a way forward on one point the union has moved the goalposts by changing its position.

"They said at the outset this was about keeping the guard on the train, that is exactly what we have offered. They said they wanted a safety critical role for that guard, that is what we have offered. Unfortunately it is clear to us that the RMT is unclear on what this dispute is about and intent on striking no matter what.

"We know the impact these RMT strikes will have on our passengers and we want to be clear that we have done everything we can to try and avert the strikes and meet RMT’s antiquated and changing demands."

In its own statement the RMT claimed that: "Parliamentary answers and rail bosses’ reports to investors have revealed that South Western Railway are set to get a taxpayer bailout of £86 million for strike action to date and over the coming weeks to cover lost passenger revenue from the RMT strike action starting Monday."

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This bailout means South Western Railway will be paid by the government even when they don’t run trains on strike days. Fat cat rail bosses won’t lose a penny and have no incentive to settle."