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Pioneering spirit

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Virgin Trains’ Nick Chadwick, who is credited with creating and managing the first driver apprenticeship programme in the UK, has been named Rail Manager of the Year.

In his nomination, Nick was described as a ‘visionary leader’ and praised for fostering a positive culture change throughout the company.

As well as his work around apprenticeships, Nick has been the driving force behind new communications strategies designed to better integrate train drivers into the workforce.

One way he achieved this was establishing a reward scheme which gave drivers the opportunity to gain credits for excellent performance that could be exchanged for gifts. Since the reward scheme was introduced, the company has seen a 300 per cent increase in the number of drivers achieving a perfect simulated assessment performance.

Driver academies

Shortly after coming off stage, Nick said, ‘The nomination came from a guy who worked with us for a year. He’s gone back to Northern Ireland but he recognised all the things I’ve been trying to do with driver management in terms of change, driver engagement and bringing in new ideas.

‘We started the driver apprentice scheme and we also do a lot of work on driver support post incident using a company called OPC.’

Nick also responded to recent reports about proposals to create new train driver academies. He felt their introduction could have a positive impact. ‘When I go back to the days when I did driver training with British Rail, we had regional train centres, which is the same sort of blueprint of what is trying to being achieved in the industry now.’

He added, ‘It’s about encouraging young people into the industry, making the train drivers of the future and being as diverse as possible.’


The Rail Manager of the Year award was sponsored by recruitment company Advanced Resource Managers (ARM). The company’s head of rail, Adam Razzell, said, ‘We’re delighted to have presented Nick Chadwick with the award for Rail Manager of the Year.

‘We work with managers across many different organisations and Nick’s nomination stood out – especially his work on the driver apprenticeship programme and reward strategies.’

Highly commended: Karen Sherwin, Great Northern, and Clare Williams, Southern.