THE new boss of South Western Railway says the company’s service “has not been good enough”.

Mark Hopwood, who has started work as managing director, said he was “determined to find a resolution” to the strikes which have blighted the network in recent months.

Mr Hopwood joins the company with 30 years of experience managing rail businesses. He said he was determined to make 2020 a better year for passengers.

South Western Railway says he was key to turning around performance in his last job with Australia’s Melbourne Trains.

He 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.”

He added: “We can’t achieve all this alone. Many of the problems we face are caused by the infrastructure, so I have agreed with Network Rail at the very highest levels that we will work hard together to address these issues.

“My previous experience tells me that a strong, collaborative relationship is key. I know that passengers don’t want to hear parts of the industry blaming each other for issues they just want to see fixed. So my approach is that it might not be our fault, but it is still our problem.”

There has been no sign of an end to the strikes on the region’s trains and passengers’ frustration has been compounded by a 2.7 per cent fare rise.

Mr Hopwood made five commitments to passengers:

l To increase the number of trains running on time and address problems such as trains running with fewer carriages than they are supposed to or missing 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,” he said.

l To introduce new and refurbished trains which should improve reliability.

l To be “open and honest” about the company’s efforts and problems, “cutting out the jargon and railway-speak”.

l To “remove obstacles” to staff providing the help and advice passengers need.

l To be “approachable and accountable”. and report back on progress.