ISLE of Wight MP Bob Seely, who has branded striking rail workers 'selfish,' has been urged to meet with workers and listen to their concerns.

Ahead of the 48 hour walk out, which starts just after midnight tonight, Mr Seely said: "I am very disappointed this strike is taking place. I condemn it. I do not believe it has anything to do with the Island.

"South Western Railway, which runs Island line, has made it absolutely clear it will not remove guards from trains. No-one is losing their job. Despite this, the union is prepared to walk out for 48 hours on Wednesday and Thursday.

"This strike is a needless and selfish attempt to disrupt other peoples' lives.

"This industrial action has nothing to do with rail safety and all to do with opposing the government while using Islanders as pawns."

Workers at five railway operators will join the strike, the latest in an ongoing dispute over the role of guards and the driver-only operation of trains.

RMT members at Southern, South Western Railway and Greater Anglia will strike for 48 hours, and at Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North for 24 hours.

The union's regional organiser for Wessex, which includes the Isle of Wight, Mick Tosh said union members taking part in the strike - including more than 30 at Island Line - were doing so for altruistic reasons.

"We are not asking for more money or fewer hours. Our motivation is to ensure the railway is safe, which we believe Island passengers want.

"Bob Seely should talk to people who work at Island Line before criticising them. Just like the guys on the mainland, they want to know what the future holds. The company has said it plans to have a guard on every train, which is not the same as guaranteeing it.

"They are looking at Island Line right now. Everyone is keen to ensure we keep an Island railway, and keep it safe."