Weymouth-Waterloo operator South Western Railway has asked the Government to reimburse losses caused by strike action.

The company has been hit by a series of 24-hour strikes by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union with the last one on Thursday of this week and the next one scheduled for tomorrow. Another five walkouts are planned in the coming weeks.

Passengers are warned SWR will run a 'severely reduced service' on weekend strike days and some stations will not be served.

The summer Saturday special to Corfe Castle via Yeovil and Weymouth will not run.

In response to a written Parliamentary question this week, Rail Minister Joe Johnson said SWR has applied to the Government to be reimbursed for revenue loss as a result of industrial action.

In a previous response to a written question he said it was a commercial matter between the company and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "We already knew that South Western Railway was in financial crisis. Passengers and taxpayers will now be appalled to learn that ministers are preparing to pay South Western Railway not to run trains during strike days.

"The fact that the Rail Minister originally sought to withhold this information and then slipped it out after MPs have broken up for the summer recess underlines that they know the public will be furious at this outrage.

"These parliamentary answers also reveal that, instead of assisting to resolve this dispute by keeping guards on South Western Railway, the Government is planning to bankroll the company with the promise that the taxpayer will cough up for any revenues the company lose as a result of industrial action.

"What is even more galling is that, as South Western are part-owned by the Chinese state, taxpayers' money will be going to improve railways in China while railways in the UK are disrupted and passengers used as pawns in the Government plan to de-staff our railways."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "It is untrue to say the Government is paying South Western Railway not to run trains during strike action - the company is running the maximum number of trains possible.

"This pointless action by the RMT is not about jobs or safety. The independent rail regulator has ruled that driver-controlled trains, which have been used in this country for 30 years, are safe.

"Staff have also had jobs and pay guaranteed for the length of the franchise, which runs until 2024.

"Instead of attempting to disrupt passengers' summer holidays, we urge the RMT to stop pushing its members into taking action to interrupt services."