The National Rail Awards 2013

National Rail Awards 2013

Twelve months’ ago, I was sitting at The Lanesborough having a                                    civilised National Rail Awards 2013cup of tea with a certain ex-CEO of a certain railway organisation, bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t attending ‘the’ event of the industry’s social calendar …

And here I am, a year later feeling a little bit weary around the edges due to being a guest at the National Rail Awards at The Grosvenor last night.

Grosvenor House HotelYou see, you really do have to be careful what you ask for!

 

 

 

There were a fair few people gathered to celebrate the achievements of their colleagues, and the British rail network itself – the thought of catering for 1250 people all at one event makes my heart sink, but the team at The Grosvenor did a marvellous job with superb service and great food. The wine wasnt bad either …

Huw EdwardsHuw Edwards – he of the most popular television news programme in the Uk, if not the World – shared the stage with our very own Nigel Harris, Managing Editor of Rail magazine, who was doing a superb job of hosting the event; both chaps kept us thoroughly entertained with their wit and repartee despite the fact that some of the audience kept up quite unacceptable levels of noise during the speeches, which is always a bugbear of mine. The wine wasn’t bad though …

Mr Edwards set the scene for the Awards presentation beautifully by emphasising to the crowd in the room that the evening really was all about one thing – and that was to celebrate the quality of the people employed in the rail sector, all those unsung heroes who keep the country moving every day of the year in often very difficult circumstances.

He also made special comment on the amazing transformation of the London Underground service, and of the ‘best imaginable showcase and feat of engineering’ that was the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London2012. The transport system operated ‘like clockwork’ and was an ‘amazing result’ for the staff on the stations, and the army of volunteers that supported them.

There were then 16 award categories … Lots of cheering, lots of celebrating and presumably the morning after, lots of headaches!

A special mention must go to Liverpool Central Station which won the Station of the Year; in itself a cause for celebration but even more so considering that in 2009, the station was classed as one of the worst in the UK. Congratulations to all the team at Liverpool – what an amazing achievement.

London Underground received Passenger Operator of the Year to rapturous applause – it was not only well deserved but clearly a popular choice for the majority of people in the room.

Pete Wilkinson, Interim Franchising Director at the DfT, was asked to present the Outstanding Personal Contribution Award to John Nelson who was described as ‘truly one of the great railway men of his generation’, and is obviously held in very high esteem by his colleagues in the industry.

So with much back slapping, well done handshakes and popping of champagne corks, the ceremony came to an end …

And the more robust amongst the crowd (ie the majority) retired to the bar for some more light refreshment. I would imagine that there are a few bleary eyes this morning. Obviously, I’m as fresh as a daisy … The wine wasn’t bad.

It was a absolute pleasure to be in the company of so many people who all have a hand in making the Railway the great British success that it is, and to do so with the air of celebration of that achievement when so often it can all just seem like doom and gloom. Congratulations to the team at Rail & Bauer Media for putting together such a great night, and yes please, I would be delighted to join you again next year!