RAIL services in the run up to Christmas will be hit as West Midlands Railway workers are set to take strike action on seven Saturdays up to the Christmas period.

The RMT trade union said it had had called the industrial action as they claim the company want to push ahead with driver only operated trains.

Between November 16 and December 28, the RMT union instructed members to not book on for any Saturday shifts.

As a result, West Midlands Railway services between Hereford, Ledbury and Birmingham are expected to be heavily affected.

The trade union's general secretary Mick Cash said there was no option but to call strike action as the company had "refused to pull back from their threat to bulldoze through Driver Only Operation", which sees drivers operate train doors.

He said the company was attacking "the safety critical role of the guard at the platform/train interface" and they would never will never compromise on the issues of passenger safety.

After the outcome of a ballot for industrial action, a spokesperson for West Midlands Trains denied the plan for driver only operation and said a plan had been agreed to keep a safety-critical conductor on passenger trains.

They said: "We are disappointed at the outcome of the ballot. We have committed to keeping a guard on every passenger train. A strike benefits nobody.

"We reached a framework agreement with RMT in May last year which guaranteed a safety-critical conductor on every passenger train.

"We remain determined to find a way of resolving this dispute without disruption and inconvenience for our passengers.

"If strikes go ahead we have drawn up contingency plans to run services using managers who also have guard competency.

"This will be a skeleton service, so passengers are advised to check their journey carefully before leaving home on strike days.

"More detailed information will be published nearer the time."