Docklands Light Railway scoops Operator of the Year at the Light Rail Awards

The annual Global Light Rail Awards took place in London on 2nd October 2019 with the Docklands Light Railway – or more specifically Keolis Amey Docklands – being named as Operator of the Year with other award winners coming from diverse locations such as Nottingham Express Transit, South Yorkshire Supertram, West Midlands Metro and Newcastle, New South Wales. As always it seems many of the award winners are a little shy about their wins but at least this year a full list of winners has been posted online so we do know exactly who walked away with the awards.

With Keolis being heavily involved in operating systems across the UK – namely the DLR, Manchester Metrolink and Nottingham Express Transit – they were big winners on the night, including the big one – Operator of the Year. The judges mentioned that Keolis Amey Docklands had a consistently excellent operation over the past year with record-breaking on time departures of 99.6% recorded. Blackpool Transport Services were highly commended in this category.

Most Improved System also went to a tramway where Keolis are involved – Nottingham Express Transit. In this category the judges were impressed by how passenger numbers has been increased by 6.7% to 17.7 million whilst investing in a tram refurbishment programme and introducing a range of initiatives to drive operational performance. This category also saw Edinburgh Trams highly commended (which in itself is interesting as they were joint operator of the year in 2018 and now apparently having been second best improved system they haven’t actually one a single award this year!)

Elsewhere the joint project between South Yorkshire PTE, Network Rail and Stagecoach Supertram to introduce the tram-train pilot to Rotherham was named as Team of the Year, despite its well publicised issues in getting the project delivered and with significant cost overruns. Tram Operations Limited (operators of London Tramlink) won the award for Significant Safety Initiative for their Total Fatigue Management project (West Midlands Metro were highly commended for their Driving Network Safely initiative).

Projects of the Year (two categories – one over 50 million euros and one under) both went outside of the UK (to Jakarta and Newcastle, New South Wales respectively) but two UK based project were highly commended. The renovation of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway was recognised in the lower price bracket with the UK Tram-Train pilot in the higher cost category.

Outstanding Engineering Achievement was awarded to West Midlands Metro for the as yet unfinished Westside extension with judges said to be impressed by the way the project had overcome the challenge of extending the tramway through an historic city by pioneering the use of battery power.

This year Manufacturer of the Year went to CAF – who have built trams for the UK market for both Edinburgh and West Midlands Metro – with Stadler Rail being highly commended.

As always the night is not just about the companies involved but also the individuals. And this year Employee of the Year was given to Tom Malethorpe, Target Cost Manager at the Midland Metro Alliance. Kenny Ewan from CAF was Highly Commended. Meanwhile Rising Star of the Year was awarded to Steve Mabey, Head of Operations at Keolis Amey Metrolink for his leadership during a suspected terrorist incident that closed Victoria’s two tram lines on New Year’s Eve. This category saw Mariya Vacheva of Tram Operations Limited Highly Commended. A special award was also given to Jan Svacina from KeolisAmey Metrolink for his part in stopping an attack by three youths on a man on a tram platform in Oldham causing the attackers to flee, saving the man’s life.

Commenting on their numerous award wins, Alistair Gordon, CEO of Keolis UK, said: “We are exceptionally proud of the achievements of our teams from across the Keolis family, with these awards a real testament to the hard work, dedication and commitment of our teams. These wins are also a reflection of our expertise as an operator. Keolis currently delivers one out of every two light rail journeys in the UK and is leading the way in delivering world-class networks that offer speed, convenience and reliability to passengers. We’re pleased that our work to deliver service excellence across all of our businesses has been recognised at the Light Rail Awards.”

Speaking on the Midland Metro Alliance’s victories, Alejandro Moreno, Director of the Alliance, said: “Winning the outstanding achievement award is an excellent accolade for the team. Construction on the Birmingham Westside Metro extension has really started to gather pace in recent months, with all track now installed for the first phase of the extension to Centenary Square. I am delighted that the team’s hard work has been recognised in this way. A very well done also goes to Tom Maplethorpe whose dedication and commitment has been instrumental to the continued success of the alliance. It is fantastic that his individual success has been recognised within the light rail industry.”

* The full list of award winners – there were 17 awards given on the night in total – can be found here.

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