Commuters will face more disruption as rail workers on some of the busiest routes in the country will stage a fresh strike on Thursday.
The industrial action comes as the long-running dispute over guards on trains shows no signs of being resolved.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on South Western Railway will walk out for 24 hours on 27 December, 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 £26m by New Year’s Eve
“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,” RMT general secretary Mick Cash said.
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.
“Thanks to the generosity of the government, South Western don’t lose a penny from strikes and therefore have little incentive to negotiate seriously,” Mr Cash said.
“We estimate that the cost to date of this strike bailout is over £26m, enough to fund a 2019 fare cut for all South Western passengers.”
South Western Railway called the strike “unnecessary”, adding that the industrial action would ensure that the “maximum misery is inflicted at what should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment”.