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Rail Engineer triumph for Chris Hooper

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Chris Hooper of communications company, telent, has won this year’s Rail Engineer of the Year Award.

Chris, a development engineer at telent, is based in Coventry but often finds himself hard at work in London. The Rail Engineer of the Year was sponsored by BridgeZone, top civil engineering company specialising in Difficult Access Inspection.

Unstinting efforts

Chris Hooper worked all hours to ready many of London’s rail info systems for the London Olympics. Being able to hear Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s announcements on the tube was largely down to Chris and his colleagues’ unstinting efforts.

Chris was away from home on an almost permanent basis during that time and more than willing to attend sites at short notice. His work involved a range of projects, improved customer information for DLR and Greater Anglia, as well as implementing a new voice announcement system for London Underground.


Paul Dobbins Head of Engineering (Metro) at telent said, ‘Chris Hooper is a unique guy, liked by all, nothing too much trouble, and despite a busy life outside work is always available any time of night or day to help customers or colleagues and always coming up with innovative ideas to improve things.

‘He has shown this over several years in his involvement in development of the telent management system for London Underground, DLR and Network Rail. However, it is the extreme effort, beyond any reasonable expectation in the lead up to the Olympics for which he has been most commended.

‘He was involved in a range of projects, improved customer information for DLR and Greater Anglia, implementing a new voice announcement system for London Underground, and a small matter of working out a way to get the

‘Boris Olympic message’ implemented across a range of systems. As the time got tighter, the more he put himself in the firing line to make things work.’

Says Tom O’Connor, head of the Rail Media Group, ‘The London Olympics has been great news for Britain, for all participants and for the rail industry. 1000s of spectators and competitors travelled to and from the games by rail.

‘That they could do so is as much a testament to the hard work of frontline staff as it is to the behind the scenes people like Chris who worked night and day to make the whole event a success. Modern communications systems are the life blood of transport and his achievement is hugely important. We wish Chris well in the future and congratulate him on winning this ward.’

The former service business of Marconi, telent was formed in 2006. Employing over 1,500 people telent helps maintain and support communications on national transport networks. telent rolls out broadband networks that allow rail and metro operators to run their operations more efficiently – round-the-clock, every day of the year.

Rail Engineer of the Year was sponsored by BridgeZone

‘We are totally committed to investing in our people and developing our engineering skill base. This is a fundamental part of our strategy to grow the business, make a positive difference to people’s lives and sponsoring ‘The Rail Engineer of the Year’ category is a reflection of that,’ said BridgeZone’s Managing Director Paul Marshall.

BridgeZone Ltd is a civil engineering consultancy, specialising in Difficult Access Inspection of built structures such as bridges, tunnels and operational property large and small, with extensive experience in rope access, diving and confined space operations.

BridgeZone draws on a wealth of experience, both nationally and – more recently – internationally, for new and existing clients. The company is also a member of the Association of Diving Contractors, an operating member of IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) and registered with the HSE to undertake inshore and inland diving operations.

Difficult Access Inspection

BridgeZone provides professionally qualified and experienced civil and structural engineers, trained in wide ranging disciplines such as commercial surface supply diving, difficult access inspection, confined space operations (incorporating full breathing apparatus for hostile conditions) and rope access.

BridgeZone offers an alternative to standard working at height restrictions, allowing access to most sub-surface and confined space environments by which Difficult Access Inspection, survey, investigation and assessment of structures can be carried out.

Highly Commended

Keith Taffs of First Capital Connect Says Terry Ridley, ‘Keith Taffs is employed as a Rolling Stock Inspector by FCC and deals with train faults and failures on a daily basis. Along with his vast knowledge of train systems and the fact that one of Keith’s attributes is attention to detail, he was identified as the ideal candidate to work alongside a software development company to design and implement the Train Assistance Faults and Failure System (TAFFS).

As an engineer Keith has had to ascertain how each individual department across the business contributes in providing a safe and reliable train service. With knowledge gained Keith was able to develop a system that will provide our control and maintenance teams with the required information when dealing with disruption to the service caused by a failed train or a train related incident. The information provided by TAFFS is up to date, logical and correct and has the appropriate links to the relevant safety database.’

Mike Jones of Merseyrail

Says Simon Olorenshaw, ‘Mike is a Project Manager for Merseyrail, responsible for the delivery of refurbishment and maintenance projects across the Merseyrail network. For the past 10 months Mike has had the day-to-day responsibility for the delivery of the concourse refurbishment project at Liverpool Central, one of the busiest stations outside of London, which also involved a full station closure for 16 weeks.

‘Mike has not only worked with station staff and the principle contractor, but he has also liaised with Network Rail and their principle contractor who were working on a scheme at Central station at the same time refurbishing the platforms and associated passageways that form the underground elements of this sub-surface station.

‘Using his experience and knowledge of the station, coupled with his skills in negotiation and diplomacy, his drive and enthusiasm has enabled him to deliver the transformation of a tired 35 year old station into one fit for the 21st century on time and within budget.

‘Mike has earned the respect of all involved in this project due to his ability to remain calm under pressure and to be constantly smiling, regardless of the issues that arrive from all directions on a project of this nature.’


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