Northern Rail’s role in the Tour de France Grand Départ in July, the biggest event it has ever had to cope with, led to it being named Operator of the Year at the 2014 National Cycle Rail Awards, where it also won the award for Best Customer Service.
Elsewhere in Yorkshire, Sheffield Railway Station, operated by East Midland Trains, won Station of the Year at the awards, which are organised by ATOC and supported by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.
The companies were recognised at a ceremony held in late November at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, with judges describing Northern Rail as “a clear winner” in the Operator of the Year category.
Among those presenting the awards were transport minister Robert Goodwill, and British Cycling policy adviser and former world and Olympic champion, Chris Boardman.
Road closures associated with the Tour de France’s visit to Yorkshire put unprecedented pressure on the region’s rail network, and Northern Rail spent a year working with the Grand Depart organisers, British Transport Police and others to plan how it would handle the influx of visitors.
According to the National Cycle Rail Awards website, “Northern Rail’s key objective was to deliver a successful event and enjoyable experience for customers, while maintaining its cycling policy of two bikes per train.
“They also wanted staff to be fully engaged, to meet the needs and wishes of the Northern Rail Cycling Forum and to deliver on revenue targets. The whole project exceeded £350,000 with costs funded by Northern Rail including extra train capacity.
“Over the TdF weekend, Northern Rail delivered successfully against its cycling policy through a high-profile communications campaign and Leeds CyclePoint had one of its busiest days since it opened in 2009.
“Members of staff were fully engaged and Northern Rail provided 150 staff volunteers. The Northern Rail Cycle Forum praised Northern Rail’s success and revenue targets were met.”
Sheffield Station’s role in the Tour de France – the city hosted the finish of Stage 2 – was also mentioned as it received the award for Station of the Year.
However, its recognition stems from the “significant transformation” the station has undergone in recent years, including the opening this year of the Sheffield Cycle Hub, which provides 400 bike parking spaces and is operating at around 75 per cent capacity.
The award citation on the National Cycle Rail Awards website says:“Developing the Hub created a wonderful opportunity for East Midlands Trains to address road access issues for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists at the station.
“The solution was to segregate the road traffic and divert it to a dedicated drop off and pick up area. East Midland Trains is also working in partnership with a local bike recycling charity at Sheffield that trains young people who are out of work and out of education.”
It added that “a number of staff have started cycling and now also use the Cycle Hub.”
The winner of the Photography award was Phil Dominey for his picture By Royal Appointment which he took during September’s Richmond to Windsor cycle ride.
South West Trains put on longer trains and more carriages, enabling 600 cyclists and their bikes to get back to London from Windsor & Eton.
“The photo shows how the station was awash with bikes, but the station management instigated a well drilled plan to load trains with each coach identified for a specific station,” said the winner.
“The team kept everyone informed, resulting in South West Trains receiving praise via Twitter on how well organised the train service was. No complaints were received, no trains were delayed and considering that South West Trains didn’t know the level of demand, all of those involved including train crew and station staff, were pleased with the outcome.”
National Cycle Rail Awards 2014 - Winners
Operator of the Year Winner- Northern Rail
Station of the Year Winner - East Midlands Trains - Sheffield
Cycle Security Winner - Centro - Love Your Bike
London Cycle Parking Winner - South West Trains, Surbiton
Door to Door Journeys including Station Travel Plans Winner - Sustrans, Swindon Station Travel Plan
Cycle Champion Winner - Stewart McKenna - British Transport Police
Innovation Winner - National Rail Enquiries - Cycling in the Mobile app
Partnership Working and Local Government Schemes Winner - Sustrans and Bedford
Best Customer Service - Northern Rail
Photography Competition Winner - South West Trains, Phil Dominey, 'By Royal Appointment'
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