Strikes are set to hit rail services in Wiltshire next week with many expected to be cancelled and others running on a reduced timetable.

South Western Railway and Great Western Railway say they will run a "reduced services" on Thursday, March 16 and Saturday, March 18 due to strike action by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union.

Both rail companies are urging people to only travel by train if "absolutely necessary" due to the strikes.

GWR said it will only operate a “reduced service” on a limited number of routes on both strike days.

A spokesman said: “Many parts of the GWR network will have no service at all. Services will start later and finish earlier and journeys will need to be completed before 6.30pm.

“Those who need to travel should check both their outward and return journeys.”

Meanwhile, Stuart Meek, SWR's chief operating officer, said: “I’m afraid I have to once again urge our customers to only travel if absolutely necessary on Thursday 16 and Saturday, March 18.

“If you do have to travel, please check your entire journey as long-planned engineering works will affect services on the Saturday.

“While we are pleased to be able to provide additional services for Guildford and Salisbury during this round of strikes, we’re sorry that large parts of our network will still be closed.

“Our contingency managers are stepping in to provide the best service we can, and we thank our customers for their ongoing patience during these latest RMT strikes.”

SWR said it will only be able to run a "severely reduced service" between 7am and 6.30pm on the strike days. Services will also start late on Friday, March 17.

On top of that, there will be no services running on March 18 between Basingstoke and Woking and between Hounslow and Windsor & Eton Riverside due to planned engineering works.

But services will run between Salisbury and Guildford (via Woking) for the first time on a strike day. Normal services will operate on the Island Line on both days.

With 40 per cent of the overall workforce eligible to strike, including guards, dispatchers and depot shunters, SWR’s contingency managers will only be able to cover a limited number of services between 7am and 6.30pm on both Thursday 16 and Saturday, March 18.

On Friday, March 17 services will also start later than usual, at around 7am.