The 2020 RailStaff Awards has been postponed due to continuing uncertainties over the Covid-19 pandemic. The rail industry’s favourite awards event, the only one in the industry to exclusively recognise people, not companies, was due to have taken place at Birmingham NEC on Wednesday 25 November.
With the NHS Nightingale Hospital being decommissioned, the NEC plans to reopen for event business from 1 October. But continuing uncertainty about ‘second spikes’ and local lockdowns, plus the nervousness many people are showing about travelling and getting too close to others, made arranging an evening event for 1,200 people too risky.
“I am very disappointed to have to postpone this year’s RailStaff Awards,” said Tom O’Connor, managing director of event organiser Rail Media. “Ever since our first one in 2007, RailStaff Awards has been the one event everyone wanted to attend. This would have been the fourteenth – but now we’ll just have to make sure that next year’s is bigger and better than ever!”
The RailStaff Awards has certainly grown over the years. From its early days at Birmingham’s International Conference Centre, the event has been as much a celebration party by the rail industry as a formal awards evening. With finalists not only nominated by their workmates but shortlisted by public vote, it has been the goal of everyone in the industry to both be there and be nominated.
With headline sponsors that have included Network Rail, Transport for London and the Association of Train Operating Companies (now the Rail Delivery Group), it has truly been supported by the industry as a whole. Categories have been sponsored by train operators, infrastructure contractors, recruitment companies and even charities.
“We aren’t the only event to have these problems,” Tom O’Connor said. “Exhibitions such as InnoTrans, Infrarail and Rail Live, which we started with Network Rail back in 2013, have all had to reschedule for next year. The Railway Ball, other awards evenings and conferences – all have been hit by Coronavirus.
“But we’ll be back next year, and it will then be a two-year celebration, so expect something extraordinary!”
It will certainly allow plenty of time for nominations, and the whisper is there will be some special categories for those who have worked through and helped others during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Make sure it’s in your diary for next year. The date hasn’t been announced yet, as it is still early days, but if you were to add (in pencil of course) 24 November 2021, you probably wouldn’t be too far out!