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More than just an awards ceremony

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If you’ve been to the RailStaff Awards, you’ll understand it’s an event like no other. 

Not only does it bring frontline and corporate staff together in one big celebration of people, but it does so in the form of the most extraordinary spectacle. 

Ever since the awards began in 2007, organisers have pulled out all the stops to ensure guests go home with a lasting memory of the night’s entertainment. Although recognition of the industry’s everyday heroes has remained at the core of the RailStaff Awards, its entertainment has become an attraction in its own right. 

Memory lane

Twelve years ago, when the inaugural ceremony was held at Birmingham’s ICC, railway champion Pete Waterman was the evening’s host. 

Compared to the awards in its current form – which attracts close to 1,000 guests to the NEC, the UK’s premier event space – the first event was a modest size but hundreds turned out to recognise their colleagues in an industry first.

Between that year and 2011, comedy was the prime entertainment with some of the country’s biggest names performing in front of packed crowds.

Dominic Holland (2007), Milton Jones (2008) – a last minute replacement for an injured Michael McIntyre – ventriloquist Paul Zerdin (2009) – who would later go on to win America’s Got Talent – as well as Alun Cochrane (2010) have all left audiences reeling with laughter at the RailStaff Awards.

RailStaff Awards themes:

  • 2011 – Halloween
  • 2012 – Prohibition in the United States
  • 2013 – Back to School
  • 2014 – The Circus
  • 2015 – Out of Africa
  • 2016 – Bollywood meets Hollywood
  • 2017 – The 1980s
  • 2018 – Enchanted Forest
  • 2019 – To be announced

In those early days, none of the events had special themes. It was only in 2011, when the awards coincidentally landed on the same day as Halloween, that organisers decided to try it out. 

And when the majority of guests dressed as werewolves, witches or as, er, Elmo, the decision was taken to introduce themes to future events. 

Subsequent years have seen guests transported to destinations all over the world, back in time, back to school and even to the circus. 

If you want to take a trip down memory lane, photos from every single RailStaff Awards ceremony are available on our website – there’s even video footage from most of the ceremonies too.


Since these themes were introduced, the entertainment has grown and grown, with live acts, live performance actors, themed decor and, since 2014, a fun fair.

Every year has provided a new experience for guests and 2019 promises to be no different. While we can’t yet reveal the theme for the evening on November 28, we’re excited to build on the success of the enchanted forest last year and will shortly let you know where guests will be transported to in 2019. 

Do you work with an extraordinary recruiter, signaller or cleaner? Nominate them in one of 20 categories today: 

  • Apprentice of the Year
  • Award for Charity
  • Customer Service Award
  • Depot Staff Award
  • Digital Railway Person or Team Award
  • Graduate or Newcomer Award
  • HR, Diversity & Inclusion Person or Team Award
  • Learning & Development Award
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Marketing & Communications Team Award
  • Rail Civils / Infrastructure Team Award
  • Rail Engineer of the Year
  • Rail Manager of the Year
  • Rail Person of the Year
  • Rail Project Manager Award
  • Rail Team of the Year
  • Recruitment Person or Team
  • Safety Person or Team Award
  • Samaritans Lifesaver Award
  • Station Staff Award

Tickets for the RailStaff Awards are now on sale. To secure your ticket or table, go to www.railstaffawards.com