THERE is no 'silver bullet' to improve the poor performance on the Weymouth-Waterloo railway line, a report has found.

Growing passenger numbers, longer trains, speed restrictions, traincrew management and ageing infrastructure have all contributed to a decline since 2011.

That's according to an independent report chaired by experienced railwayman Sir Michael Holden which looked at every aspect of performance on the south western rail network.

The report has been welcomed by South Dorset MP Richard Drax.

The operation was previously run by South West Trains (Stagecoach) but was awarded last year to First MTR which is running it as South Western Railway (SWR).

The group pledged to invest £1.2bn over seven years and improve services.

But it has been blighted by poor performance, including cancellations and late trains, since it took over last August – prompting Transport Secretary Chris Grayling Grayling to commission a review into failings.

Sir Michael has made a number of recommendations to both SWR and Network Rail.

SWR said it now had a blueprint to help improve performance – and that many of the recommendations in the report had already been identified and are underway.

Sir Michael said: "Passengers on South Western’s routes have put up with substandard punctuality for too long.

“However, there is no one silver bullet that will quickly restore SWR punctuality to 2011 levels.

“Instead it needs relentless and focused effort over a long period of time, and some incremental funding.

“All of the parties involved – SWR, Network Rail and the Department for Transport – have a vital role to play in ensuring this can happen.

“SWR’s passengers deserve nothing less.”

SWR Managing Director Andy Mellors said many of the problems identified in the report pre-date South Western Railway.

He added: “Eight years of decline will not be reversed overnight but, working together with Network Rail, we are determined to arrest that decline and put performance back on track to the levels our passengers expect, and we want to deliver.

“Some of Sir Michael’s recommendations will require substantial investment and we are working through these.”

Mr Drax said: “Sir Michael's recommendations include recruiting more drivers, renewing the fleet of trains, changing the arrangements for analysing performance, upgrading software for use in the control centre, more and better monitoring and maintenance, and removing speed restrictions."

He added: “I have met SWR’s Managing Director Andy Mellors on a number of occasions and have no doubt that he is as keen to see improvements as his customers.

"I am also pleased to see that the Secretary of State and the Trains Minister Paul Maynard will be meeting SWR at the end of October to follow up on progress.”