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New MD appointed at South Western Railway

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Claire Mann has been appointed managing director of South Western Railway (SWR), to start early in 2021.

With more than two decades of experience in the transport sector, Claire has held a number of senior leadership roles in the rail industry including director for Docklands Light Railway at Transport for London (TfL), operations and safety director at Arriva Trains Wales, general manager east at the former First Great Western (now GWR) and customer service director at London Overground. Most recently, she moved within TfL to become Director of Bus Operations, where she was responsible for the day-to-day delivery of the capital’s 9,200-strong bus fleet.

Mark Hopwood, who is currently interim managing director of SWR, will return to be managing director of GWR on 4 January 2021. The role of SWR managing director will be covered by Mike Houghton, chief operating officer, from 4 January 2021 until Claire joins.

Matthew Golton, who has led Great Western Railway since last January, will be seconded to First Rail in a new interim role as rail business development director. Matthew will join the First Rail leadership team and will focus on the development of our future rail businesses and contractual arrangements. 

Steve Montgomery, First Rail managing director, said: “With her experienced background in customer service and public transport, Claire is well-placed to lead South Western Railway as we continue our £1.2 billion programme to transform the travelling experience for our customers. We are all looking forward to having her on the team.

“Although passenger numbers may be suppressed at the moment, people will want to travel again for work or leisure, and we are ready to play our part in helping the economic recovery across the network.

“I’d like to thank both Mark Hopwood and Matthew Golton for performing these important interim roles over the past year and for their commitment to improving services for customers at SWR and GWR.

Claire Mann said: “I’m really looking forward to joining the SWR team. This is a railway close to my heart and one that is vital for connecting so many diverse communities. I am passionate about delivering an excellent customer experience and building on the great work already underway to transform this railway. People are the most important part of any successful operation and I am looking forward to meeting the teams and individuals across the SWR network.”