The RailStaff Awards are back and this year they’re bigger and better than ever!
Every year, the Awards attract more entries, more interest, and more companies ─ so why are they so successful?
The rail industry, like most others, has its fair share of awards evenings. Organised by trade associations, publications, interested parties, and even individual companies, they are all pretty much alike. Since its inception in 2007, only the RailStaff Awards have stood out as being completely different from the rest.
The first major difference is that no company ever wins anything. The RailStaff Awards are for rail staff – the people that make the industry great. There are 22 categories, some for teams, some for individuals, and some for both, but they are all for people.
Of course, all of those people work for a company, and their employers gets the kudos of them winning an award. Many companies encourage employees to enter and even help them do so, but at the end of the day, the person is in the frame not the company.
Very often, the entrant isn’t even nominated for their performance at work. The Train Driver of the Year doesn’t win because she is great at driving trains, and the Signaller of the Year isn’t a winner because he is a conscientious signalman. No, they win because of what else they do, in their spare time and between shifts. They work to support colleagues, the public, and the industry, to make the railway safer or to help the needy and infirm. To help schoolchildren be safe around the railway or to develop new ways to make the railway more efficient and perform better.
In short, they win for ‘going the extra mile’ – a rather hackneyed phrase but one which, in this case, describes exactly what the judges are looking for.
Do you work with an extraordinary train driver, station manager, or engineer? Nominate them in one of 23 categories today:
THE CATEGORIES IN FULL:
- Apprentice of the Year
- Award for Charity
- Covid Hero – Outstanding Individual Award
- Covid Heroes – Outstanding Team Award
- Customer Service Award
- Depot Staff Award
- Digital Railway (S&T) Person or Team Award
- Graduate or Newcomer Award
- Health & Wellbeing 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 & Talent Acquisition Person or Team of the Year
- Safety Person or Team Award
- Samaritans Lifesaver Award
- Station Staff Award
Nominations and public voting
The second difference from other awards is that nobody enters. Everyone is nominated by somebody else. So, individuals and teams are nominated by colleagues and co-workers, by management, by friends, by union reps, and even by the public. Anyone can nominate, but you can’t nominate yourself.
Once the nominations are in, details are posted on the Awards’ website and then the public voting commences. Yes – public voting! Anyone and everyone can go onto the website and vote for their favourite, whether it’s for an entry that has really impressed them or just for their mate. This is when the nominees need to mobilise their fan clubs to get the votes in.
Once the public voting is complete, details of the top 15 in each of the 20 categories go off to an Independent Judging Panel made up of industry leaders. For each category there are at least three Independent Panel Judges and one Category Sponsor Judge. The judging teams choose a winner and up to two ‘highly commended’ entries for each category.
To give some idea of the volumes involved, in 2019, the 20 categories attracted 1,359 nominations for 765 nominees (some had multiple nominations) proposed by 1,221 nominators. Those nominees then received 100,776 public votes, or an average of 131 votes each.
Everyone has a great time
On the night, after a good dinner and some spectacular entertainment – usually consisting of fire-eaters hanging from the ceiling by ribbons (watch the video on the website if you don’t believe it!) – the compere runs through the various categories, every short-listed finalist is named, the highly commended entries are announced, then the category winners go up on stage to receive their awards to thunderous applause (and sometimes a lot of screaming from colleagues at the table!).
After the presentations are over, and photographs taken, the RailStaff Awards show the third way in which they differ from other industry affairs. Rather than a largely male audience leaving their tables and aiming for the bar, in this case, as the Awards are for people, attendees and their spouses, partners, and/or colleagues party the night away!
Dancing continues until one, and there are various other activities to enjoy.
In summary, the annual RailStaff Awards are an EVENT. They’re a celebration of what makes our industry great – its people. Winners and finalists come from all levels of the industry, and they mix and mingle and have a great time.
If you’ve never been to the RailStaff Awards, then you should attend in 2022. It’s not a ball, it’s not a networking event, and it’s not a corporate event – it’s all of those things and more. It’s the RailStaff Awards – Thursday 24th November 2022 at the NEC, Birmingham.