A Twickenham MP has criticised South Western Railway for an over reliance on staff working rest days, after train services were cancelled at more than 40 stations in London and the wider south on Monday.

South Western Railway (SWR) services from stations in south west London were unexpectedly cancelled on Monday morning without prior warning to commuters and the cancellations are set to continue at some of these stations on non-strike days.

There were no services running from Mortlake, North Sheen, Whitton, St Margarets and Strawberry Hill on Monday.

Currently, no train service from these stations, except Whitton, are set to resume until January 3 at the earliest.

MP Munira Wilson very strongly criticised SWR on Twitter and told the Richmond & Twickenham Times she had “made it very clear to SWR that communications were woeful.”

Munira said: “As a result of my communication with SWR’s managing director on Sunday afternoon and what I put out on social media, Sarah Olney (Richmond Park’s MP) and I were offered an urgent meeting and SWR did apologise for the lack of communication.”

Munira’s meeting was successful in persuading SWR to resume off-peak services to and from Whitton station.

These services will be taking place between 10am-3pm and from 7pm until the end of the service.

Services have not yet been re-instated for Strawberry Hill or St Margarets.

Munira added: “I will keep pushing.

“I think it is utterly unacceptable that my constituents in those areas have got zero service for the best part of two weeks.”

In response to Munira on Twitter, SWR said: “Hello Munira. The RMT are undertaking Action Short of a Strike between 18 and 24 December.

“Unfortunately, the industrial action limits the number of services we can run each day and the calling patterns we can deploy.

“We’ve had to make some difficult decisions to provide certainty for our customers by publishing a timetable we have a high degree of confidence we can safely deliver each day.

“We’ve prioritised routes with the most customers and taken into consideration alternative travel options. We're sorry that some stations will not have a service as a result.”

In one of their Tweets, SWR highlighted that 2,100 RMT members are eligible to strike, and Network Rail maintenance staff signallers are also taking action.

Munira said only off-peak services had been allowed to resume from Whitton station because SWR are “worried the trains will get overcrowded.”

Munira said both the government and SWR were to blame for the travel chaos experienced by commuters.

She said: “The government has a big part to play in this in terms of industrial relations with the unions and being properly invested in trying to get a deal.

“SWR are to blame in the sense they shouldn’t be so overly reliant on people working rest days and overtime.”

Munira said safety concerns were the explanation given by SWR for why train services would not resume from Mortlake or North Sheen.

She said: “SWR were worried the trains will get overcrowded.

“The people who are suffering in all of this are the passengers and my constituents.

“The government, unions and train companies need to get around the table and hammer something out for the sake of people’s lives and livelihoods.

“I’m hearing from key workers struggling to get to work, police officers and a cancer nurse.

“I’m hoping they will reach some sort of deal quickly because the situation is unsustainable.”

Munira said she was particularly worried about the impact of the rail disruption on businesses in Twickenham.

Munira said: “Harlequins F.C. had to cancel their game against Bristol on Dec 27 and I’ve been in contact with the CEO of Harlequins who is utterly devastated.

“They are still reeling from Covid and the huge losses they experienced then.

“If all the fans who are booked in don’t re-book for the re-scheduled match in March, then they plan to lose a lot of money.”

Munira said businesses and pubs in Twickenham city centre will also lose out, and she will therefore continue to “ask questions and challenge to ensure we have logical answers.”

A spokesperson for South Western Railway said: “We are very sorry that RMT industrial action will cause so much disruption to our customers over the Christmas period. We share their frustration at what is a very busy time of year for travelling.

“The industrial action involves colleagues working in various roles, including shunters, dispatchers, and guards, which has significantly reduced the number of trains we can operate each day.

“Instead of making numerous short notice amendments and cancellations to our standard timetable, we decided to provide greater certainty by publishing an amended timetable that we have a high degree of confidence we can safely deliver each day.

“This means concentrating the trains we can run into core hours of operation, between 0700 and 2200, on a reduced area of our network. Our aim is to provide confidence for customers who need to travel, so they can plan ahead over the Christmas and New Year period and make alternative plans if necessary.

“Unfortunately, we have had to make some very difficult decisions on where and when we can operate. One of the difficult decisions has been to not call at some stations to avoid overcrowding. However, following a review of the resource available, we have been able to strengthen services between London Waterloo, Surbiton, Woking, and Basingstoke.

“While it is unsafe to operate morning peak services from some suburban stations, we are pleased that a limited number of off-peak trains are also now serving Earlsfield and Whitton stations.”