New SWR boss pledges to resolve strikes and delays


The new managing director of South Western Railway (SWR) has admitted that the firm’s performance has not been good enough and pledged to resolve the long-running dispute over the role of guards.

SWR said Mark Hopwood has over 30 years’ experience of managing rail businesses and delivering improvements for passengers.

It has also brought together performance, operations and customer experience functions under chief operating officer Mike Houghton, who it said ‘will help SWR focus on running more trains on time’.

Mr Hopwood said: 'It’s my mission to drive through change and make a positive impact for South Western Railway passengers. Frankly, our service has not been good enough in recent months and years.

‘I also know that the recent strikes have had a very significant impact on our passengers and staff and I am determined to find a resolution.”

‘We will focus on changes that can make an immediate difference to the number of trains running on time.’

Last week, after a series of strikes lasting nearly a month, the RMT union pledged to continue to fight over the role of guards ‘while condemning the company and the Government for blocking a solution’.

Mr Hopwood also claimed that many of the problems faced by the company are caused by the infrastructure, but said: ‘I know that passengers don’t want to hear parts of the industry blaming each other for issues they just want to see fixed.’

Among ‘five key commitments’ to passengers, Mr Hopwood pledged to address problems like trains missing out stops to make up time – a common complaint of SWR passengers.

He said: ‘This will be a slow and steady improvement - I'm sorry to say there's no silver bullet to solve these issues overnight, and I expect we'll still have bad days like everyone else. But we have developed a robust performance improvement plan to reduce the problems that cause delays and manage those we do have more effectively.’

As many commuters returned to work on Monday morning, SWR services in and out of Waterloo were disrupted by what the firm described as faults with signalling systems.

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