AS striking rail workers once again gathered on the picket line outside Swindon station today, Great Western Railway warned of yet more disruption to services this weekend.

The train operator says only 30 per cent of services will run on Saturday - the third day of strike action this week. Sunday is also likely to see a knock-on effect.

GWR staff are among 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union embroiled in a bitter row over pay, jobs and conditions.

The Swindon-based company is now warning people to expect severe disruption and to only travel by rail if absolutely necessary.

GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: "We recognise that this week has been difficult for those who need to travel. We’ve been doing our best to provide scheduled services on key routes, which is hopefully making a difference.

"Services are however starting and finishing earlier throughout the strike period with an extremely limited service operating this Saturday between 7.30am and 6.30pm. On Sunday, no services are running before 7am and we will also be working hard to re-position our fleet for Monday’s return to normal."

On Saturday the operator is aiming to provide about 30 per cent of its usual timetabled services, and about 50 per cent on Sunday with a later start-up than usual and the need to rebalance the fleet to provide full services again from Monday.

Where trains are able to run, they are expected to be extremely busy and replacement bus services are not able to be provided.

On Saturday, GWR expects to only be able to operate services along the routes and stations as seen on this photo:

Wiltshire Times: GWR timetable during the rail strikeGWR timetable during the rail strike

Most journeys from Swindon station are still planned to go ahead, except for the service to and from Gloucester. 

Despite the disruption, RMT assistant general secretary Eddie Dempsey said he thinks "the public is behind us".

He told the PA news agency: "They understand it’s a scandal that billions are being ripped out of our industry at the same time workers are being punished.

"Teachers, they’re facing a cost-of-living crisis, (also) posties, telecoms workers, health workers.

"We think there’s going to be more demands for increases in pay in the economy and we think that’s right.

"It’s about time Britain had a pay rise. Wages have been falling for 30 years and corporate profits have been going through the roof."