GWR boss awarded CBE in New Year’s Honours

Mark Hopwood First Group GWR

Mark Hopwood, who will return to his position as Managing Director at Great Western Railway (GWR) on 4 January, has been named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year’s Honours list.

In the past 13 years Mark has transformed GWR and steered the business to its best ever customer satisfaction figures in the three most recent National Rail Passenger Surveys undertaken by Transport Focus in 2019 and 2020.

In 2019, under Mark’s leadership, GWR successfully introduced the biggest timetable change in 40 years with more services, seats and faster journeys, bringing new and refurbished trains to every part of the network and has seen staff engagement scores reach their highest ever levels.  This has been done against a background of the longest period of rail improvement work on the Great Western network since Brunel.

Mark said:“This is an honour that reflects the efforts of thousands of railway colleagues I have worked with throughout my 31-year career. The railway plays a part in the daily lives of millions, and I am very proud and delighted that my small contribution has been recognised in this way.”

First Rail Managing Director Steve Montgomery said: “Mark has held a number of senior roles in his long and successful career, including more than a decade as GWR’s Managing Director. His dedication to serving passengers, using his extensive knowledge and experience, is demonstrated every day and has contributed to a greatly transformed experience for customers. We are proud that these efforts have been recognised in this award of a CBE for Mark.”

Mark Hopwood biography

– Mark began his career in the railway at the age of 17, answering calls in a British Rail Telephone Enquiry Bureau in Reading. Spotting his talent, BR allowed him to take unpaid leave to complete a degree and he also undertook a variety of further posts during vacations.

– He has gone on to hold numerous positions in the railway industry including a spell with track and signalling operator Railtrack, before becoming Operations Director at First North Western at the age of 29, taking on a leadership role at the company which had 2,500 employees and managed 307 stations. Six years later he became Managing Director of three rail companies (C2C, Silverlink and Gatwick Express), and then in 2008 he took on the Managing Director role at First Great Western, now Great Western Railway.

– Mark has held a number of high-profile external positions within the industry, including Chair of the National Rail Taskforce where he helped to improve performance across all UK rail services and Chair of the National Rail Adhesion Group looking at new ways to prevent delays from autumn leaf fall.  He is a past President of the Railway Study Association and served for seven years on the board of the Institute of Railway Operators, which helps support and develop young talent in the railway. He remains a Fellow of that institution and of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

– He has previously been named Rail Business Leader of the Year at the Rail Business Awards and won the Outstanding Personal Contribution Award at the National Rail Awards. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate (PhD) from the University of Plymouth for services to business.

– During 2020 he was seconded to South Western Railway as interim Managing Director. Having spent the year working to improve services for customers at SWR against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, he will resume his previous Managing Director role at Great Western Railway in January.