New South Western Railway managing director promises improvements

THE new managing director of South Western Railway (SWR) has promised a raft of changes to end misery for commuters.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 9:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 10:32 am
South Western Railway. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

A series of walkouts by SWR staff as part of a long running dispute over the future of guard roles caused a month of travel chaos in December.

A number of other issues have also impacted travel times, including a derailed freight train at Eastleigh last week.

But now Mark Hopwood, who has been managing director for just four weeks, said the company is seeing ‘signs of improvement’.

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‘(We) still face some big challenges – like the derailed freight train at Eastleigh which shut down a good portion of our mainline last week, causing disruption for most of our network as trains were diverted or cancelled,’ he said.

‘We run one of the busiest networks in Europe, so there’s no easy fix, but there are a number of things we’re doing to make the improvements our network needs.’

Ways SWR plans to address issues is by ‘taking a detailed look at stations from which our trains leave a couple of minutes late’, which will help find ‘small but important ways to get more of our trains running on time’.

Plans to speed up its service recovery will come into force to ‘claw back vital minutes’ after a problem.

He added: ‘Disruption to our services is often caused by issues with the railway infrastructure, and whilst this isn’t our fault, it is our problem.‘So we’re working to reduce the number of speed restrictions on our network, making the case to Network Rail for their safe removal, and so help save those crucial minutes from our journey times.’