Rail workers on some of the busiest routes in the country will stage a fresh strike on Thursday in the long-running dispute over guards on trains, causing more travel misery for passengers.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on South Western Railway will walk out for 24 hours, with further action planned on New Year's Eve.

Picket lines will be mounted outside stations, including London Waterloo.

The union claimed the cost to the taxpayer of the Government "bailing out" South Western on strike days will be more than £26 million by New Year's Eve.

The union said that prior to his resignation as Rail Minister Jo Johnson admitted to MPs that South Western had made an application to be reimbursed for revenues lost as a result of industrial action.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Official parliamentary answers have shown that the government is preparing to bail out South Western Railway for revenues lost as a result of strike action.

"Passengers will be outraged to know that instead of taking steps to resolve this dispute rail ministers are instead prolonging it by using tax payers' money to prop up South Western Railway on strike days.

"Thanks to the generosity of the government, South Western don't lose a penny from strikes and therefore have little incentive to negotiate seriously.

"We estimate that the cost to date of this strike bail out is over £26 million, enough to fund a 2019 fare cut for all South Western passengers."