Tram Operations Limited named Operator of the Year at Global Light Rail Awards

Its the Global Award ceremony where most of the winners seem to come from the UK but the winners have again been announced for the annual Global Light Rail Awards with the “big” Operator of the Year prize going to the operator of London Tramlink, Tram Operations Limited (TOL). They just bear Midland Metro Limited to the award with many other systems, projects and individuals also celebrating virtually on the night.

The 2020 Most Improved System was one of the awards which went out of the UK with the Moscow Tramway taking the accolade and West Midlands Metro again having to settle for the runners-up prize of Highly Commended. Another UK system celebrating was the Tyne and Wear Metro who were awarded the Judges’ Special Award in recognition of their 40th anniversary. It was jointly presented to Nexus and Professor Tony Ridley, the former Director General  who led the Metro project in its early years.

Tobyn Hughes, Director General of Nexus and Managing Director of Transport North East was delighted with the recognition: “I’m delighted to say that the Metro and its first director general, Tony Ridley, have been given this special award by our transport industry peers. This is fitting recognition for all of the work that so many people have put into the success of the Tyne and Wear Metro over 40 years, keeping the network at the heart of the local economy and communities that it serves. It was Tony Ridley and a group of visionary planners who first came up with the idea of taking decaying rail lines and linking them using city centre tunnels and a bridge over the River Tyne. What they created is what we know as the Tyne and Wear Metro 40 years on. Tony oversaw the development of the Metro plans, the successful bid for Government funding, and he led some of the initial construction work. It is Tony Ridley who we have to thank for the first idea of a metro network. My thanks go to everyone who works on the system now, and who has worked on it over the last 40 years.”

In probably a sign of the times COVID-19 and cleaning seemed to feature a lot in some of the categories. Tranvia de Zaragoza won the Best Customer Initiative for running at full capacity during Covid-19 quarantine and both Outstanding Achievement awards were given as a result of cleaning. Adam Cardiff (Metrolink Specialist and Periodic Clean Supervisor) was Highly Commended with Cordant Cleaning winning the category.

Manufacturer of the Year went to a company not known within the UK – TIG/m. They are based in the USA and design and manufacturer electric streetcars which don’t require overhead electric power or other “wayside power systems”. They have supplied vehicles to Doha amongst other places. More familiar names in Stadler Rail and CAF were Highly Commended.

The Manchester Metrolink Trafford Park line – which opened in March 2020 – was named Outstanding Engineering Achievement while it was also Highly Commended in the Project of the Year over 50 million euros category. In a strange turn of fortunes the project which was Highly Commended in the Outstanding Engineering Achievement (Mott McDonald/Providence of Utrecht – Uitholflijn) was the winner in the Project of the Year over 50 million euros category!

As well as the Trafford Park line being recognised at these awards it also received the Project of the Year, Transport Project of the Year and Health, Safety and Wellbeing Initiative of the Year categories at the British Construction Industry Awards.

But back to the Global Light Rail Awards and Project of the Year under 50 million euros went to Tram Operations Limited and London Trams for the Physical Prevention of Over Speed system with MPT Highly Commended for the Crumpsall Stop Enhancement.

It wasn’t only about organisations though as one of the most hotly contested categories is that of Rising Star and in 2020 this went to Tom Rowe from Midland Metro Limited. Tom was recognised having played a vital role in making travelling by tram a safer experience working closely with the police to further reduce the already low levels of crime on the network.

Tom Rowe said: “It feels a bit surreal to be honoured in this way, but I’m absolutely delighted. Although I’ve won the award, the progress we’ve achieved so far wouldn’t have been possible without the support of colleagues here at WMM and partner organisations such as the Safer Travel Team. It just shows what can be done when everyone works together.”

In the same Rising Star category Paul Schwalbe from CAF Rail UK was Highly Commended while the Employee/Team of the Year Award this year didn’t go to an individual as the Technical Team at Tram Operations Limited won with the CAF Wednesbury Depot Team on the West Midlands Metro Highly Commended.

Winners from outside the UK included Zaragoza, Msheireb Downtown Streetcar, Utrecht and Moscow while other UK winners not mentioned above include Edinburgh for their 2030 transport vision which could see an expanded tram network in the Scottish capital.

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