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SWR Managing DirectorSouth Western Railway's new Managing Director, Mark Hopwood, is promising big improvements in SWR's performance.  Can he deliver?

In an open letter to the RA's Chairman, Graham Cooke, also posted on SWR's website, Mark Hopwood has acknowledged his company's poor performance and is promising substantial improvements.

To that end, he has made five commitments:-

  1. We'll increase the number of trains running on time, and address problems like trains running with fewer carriages than they're supposed to and trains missing out stops to make up time. 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. I am confident you will see more trains running on time as a result.
  2. We'll introduce new and refurbished trains, that will allow us to bring in new and more reliable services, and to roll out more Wi-Fi, toilets on trains and other things passengers tell us they want.
  3. We'll be open and honest with you. Open about what we're trying to do and how we're trying to do it, and honest about the problems we face. We'll try and do this all in Plain English, cutting out the jargon and railway-speak.
  4. We'll empower and enable our staff to provide the help and advice to our customers. Our job is to get our customers where they need to be, at the time they need to be there, and our people already work extremely hard to try and do that. I'll remove obstacles to them doing so.
  5. We'll be approachable and accountable. Tell us when there's a problem and we'll try and fix it and explain what we're trying to do about it. Obviously, I can't reply to each and every one of you. But I've got a team of over 5,000 who can, and I'll report back to you regularly on progress against these promises so you can hold me to them.

No timescale is given for these improvements, but Mr Hopwood says, 'I am determined 2020 should be a much better year for our customers.'

So, if SWR doesn't deliver on its commitments, make sure you let Mark Hopwood know - email:  and cc to: 


Click here to see Mark Hopwood's full letter.