The winners of the Rail Team of the Year category provided one of the most uplifting stories of the night. When driver John Burrows suffered a life- changing stroke, the team at Blackpool North stepped up to help.
While John was in hospital, a leak at his house had ruined his kitchen. Determined for John not to return to such devastation, the team of 18 repaired and renovated his home, installing a new kitchen, fitting new carpets and buying new furniture. Later in the year, the team returned, again in their own time, to spruce up his garden. Funding for the work came from drivers’ union ASLEF and the Blackpool North Welfare Fund.
Nominating the team, Paul Wilkinson said, ‘When John came home from hospital he was welcomed with a new kitchen, carpets, furniture and freshly decorated rooms. This had all been done by his colleagues at Blackpool North train station in their own time. This included drivers, conductors, station staff and management from all across the station and depot.’
‘This is the pinnacle of it,’ said Northern’s James Brennan, collecting the award. ‘I’m here in normal tie because we don’t have black ties, we don’t have dickie bows, we’re not that kind of people. We’re average people that live in Blackpool and we do our bit.’
Coyle Personnel, one of the largest suppliers of contingent labour to Britain’s rail industry, has sponsored the Rail Team of the Year category this year.
As well as employing around 900 sponsored staff, Coyle Personnel also has full-time management and administrative teams working out of its 10 offices around the UK.
Coyle Personnel became incorporated in 1988 and specialised in construction labour. Rail now represents a large part of its business. As well as other major industry clients, Coyle Rail is a supplier of electrification and plant works (E&P) and signalling contingent labour to Network Rail.Says Phil Cambridge, Coyle’s rail manager, ‘They were just so genuinely, genuinely delighted to win it and genuinely surprised that they did as well.’
He added, ‘I think what makes it different to a lot of industry awards is it’s much more personal… I think it’s great that the award’s given to that person for their efforts and not to that project.’
Next up was Jai Smart, a power engineer with 15 years experience in the rail sector, who was presented by sponsor Westermo with the Signalling and Telecommunications Person of the Year award.
Jai, who works for Alstom Transport UK, was praised by his colleagues for demonstrating ‘a common-sense practicality when developing and evolving bespoke power applications for the railway environment’. He was also described as a great manager and a great role model.
Jai, who joked that the award was his first since completing the 50m breaststroke at school, said his aim now is to grow his team and promote the field of engineering.
‘My position is to promote engineering and power in the business and make sure the signalling actually works,’ said Jai. ‘I’m looking to actually recruit and develop the department and provide a better engineering base towards the industry,’ said Jai. ‘I was an apprentice in the 80s and everybody went into the public monetary sector and finance rather than doing engineering, so that’s one of my focuses at the moment to try and get graduates and trainees back into the engineering sector to bring back and put engineering where it needs to be.’
This is the fifth time that Westermo has supported the Signalling & Telecommunications Person or Team of the Year category.
Founded in Sweden in 1975, Westermo has been manufacturing industrial communications systems for over 40 years for a variety of sectors.
In the UK, Westermo is an established supplier of lineside and on train communications infrastructure. Its communications networks support the CCTV, passenger information and remote condition monitoring systems we encounter every day.
‘We’re just so proud to be part of this industry,’ said Phil Mounter, sales manager for the company’s rail business in the UK. ‘It’s just so rewarding to work in an industry that’s proud of itself, proud of the people that work within the industry. It’s great to work with people like Jai who really go the extra mile.’
RAIL TEAM OF THE YEAR HIGHLY COMMENDED
- Marylebone Station Team, Chiltern Railways
- East Midlands South ‘Flying Scotsman’ team, British Transport Police
SIGNALLING AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS PERSON OF THE YEAR HIGHLY COMMENDED
- Christopher Wilson, Siemens Mobility UK
- RETB, telent