Everyone’s a winner at Light Rail Awards

Well not quite everyone but it does seem a lot of the UK’s tramways are celebrating wins at the recent Light Rail Awards! Edinburgh Trams, Manchester Metrolink, Midland Metro and Nottingham Express Transit have all been delighted to announce their wins this week although no UK tramway seems to have walked away with the big prize of Operator of the Year.

Both Edinburgh Trams and Nottingham Express Transit were awarding the Most Improved System accolade which for Edinburgh was a bit odd as in 2015 they were Operator of the Year have now apparently improved and yet haven’t retained the Operator award! Nottingham were joint winners of this award because of how quickly they had resumed their excellent service following the opening of the new lines in August 2015 (something which some regular travellers may dispute we would imagine).

Speaking about their award Lea Harrison, General Manager for Edinburgh Trams, said: “The Global Light Rail Awards are an excellent event to recognise the hard work of employees from the industry. Delivering the Information Lounge and improving our service even further considering we were awarded Operator of the Year in 2015 is no exception.”

Paul Robinson, Nottingham Express Transit General Manager, added: “This is fantastic news and a real boost to everyone who works hard, day in-day out, to ensure NET provides the best service it possibly can to thousands of happy customers. Our key ambition had always been to ensure the transition to a new, greatly expanded network was seamless and that customer confidence and satisfaction remained high. The award win is a ringing endorsement of that and we’re delighted to have been recognised by the wider light rail industry.”

For Manchester Metrolink they were celebrating winning the Project of the Year (under 50m euros) for the opening of the new Exchange Square stop. Peter Cushing, Metrolink Director at TfGM, said: “I speak on behalf of everyone who worked on delivering the project, on time and within budget, when I say that we’re all absolutely delighted to pick up this award. The Exchange Square stop is a fantastic piece of architecture that not only looks great but serves to provide our customers with the quality waiting area they deserve. It’s on the doorstep of some of the city’s premier retail and leisure destinations and looks right at home next to Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Manchester Arndale.”

And as for Midland Metro well their award was for Best Customer Initiative. This was given because of their introduction of contactless and smart payments on board the trams – the first UK system to offer this ability. At the same time as winning the award Midland Metro have also announced that they have had a record breaking September with more passengers carried than ever before.

Ben Ackroyd, Midland Metro Managing Director, commented: “We brought in this innovation to make our customers’ journeys more convenient. We introduced the change at the end of May, just as we opened the brand new extension into Birmingham city centre. “We knew it was something our passengers wanted, and our boldness paid off – after just four months, over 16% of tickets sold on the tram are bought using contactless. And this September, we’ve seen four consecutive record-breaking weeks in tram passenger numbers. Over half a million passengers travelled on the tram in September 2016 – that’s the highest ever, and 23% up on last year. It was the Midland Metro staff that have made this happen. I’m very proud of them. In a time of great upheaval – with the new extension – they took on whole new system and made it work brilliantly to give our passengers what they want.”

The following known awards were presented to UK systems:

Most Improved System – Edinburgh Trams and Nottingham Express Transit (joint)

Project of the Year (under 50m euros) – Manchester Metrolink Exchange Square stop

Best Customer Initiative – Midland Metro: introduction of contactless and smart payments on board trams

Team of the Year – Nottingham Express Transit (highly commended)

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