13 November 2013


ERA_BlogImage_Eshot_1113-2The winners of the inaugural European Rail Congress Awards were announced in front of 600 European rail officials at last night’s prestigious Awards Ceremony in London.  The awards were part of the European Rail Congress – a two day industry rail summit and annual rail awards ceremony.


The awards were presented by UK comedian and TV personality Rory Bremner at the Westminster Park Plaza Hotel in London.  A total of twenty awards were given out on the night.

European Freight Operator of the Year went to ERS Railways – a 100% privately owned railway undertaking with five offices in four countries across Europe.  Its modern fleet of 16 E locomotives and over 500 leased container platforms as well as (mega) trailer capable double pocket wagons makes it a major player in the growing European intermodal transport market. So far it has been granted railway licenses in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and it has 450 customers to date.

European Commuter Operator of the Year went to London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL).  LOROL has managed significant growth in all aspect of its operations since taking over the new franchise in 2007 and successfully opened a major extension to its network in South London. There was a 25% growth in passengers  last year – which LOROL has achieved whilst maintaining industry leading levels of punctuality and customer satisfaction.

London Underground beat off competition from Metro de Madrid to win the European Metro Operator of the Year.  LU continues to achieve record-breaking numbers of passengers, service delivery, customer satisfaction and excess journey time reductions.  It is also providing more capacity and higher service frequencies.  This has been achieved in the midst of the biggest ever upgrade programme as well as the 2012 Olympics which saw 35% more passengers carried than normal.

OHL Concesiones S.A – Metro Ligero Oeste won the award for European Light Rail Operator of the Year.  Metro Ligero Oeste is the concessionaire company for the two light rail lines which, since July 2007, have connected the towns of Boadilla del Monte, Alcorcón and Pozuelo de Alarcón with the Metro, Renfe suburban railway and bus networks of Madrid.  MLO operates with 99% punctuality. Passenger numbers had been growing until 2011, when they were affected by the economic crisis. Satisfaction levels are among the highest levels in the public transport system of the Community of Madrid.

Thello, a subsidiary of Trentitalia and Transdev, won the European Cross Border Operator of the Year.  It operates night trains on two routes between France and Italy as an open access operator. The first route, Paris-Venice, carried more than 300,000 passengers in its first year, 20% more than forecast. A second route, Paris-Florence-Rome, was added in 2012. Each train has a restaurant car offering a full restaurant service for dinner and breakfast and a buffet bar that remains open throughout the journey. 90% of the trains arrived on time or with a delay of less than 30 minutes in 2012.

European Regional Operator of the Year was SNCF for its Mulhouse tram-train.  It is the first of its kind in France providing seamless commuter travel options for accessing the city, as well as providing intermodal connections with other urban and regional modes.  Its pricing offers a 70% reduction on car travel.  The project was complex but its passenger forecasts have been far exceeded.

The final award of the evening was for European Inter-City Operator of the Year which was awarded to First TransPennine Express.  It has seen passenger growth of 85% since 2004.  This has been achieved by keeping customers satisfied, ensuring employees remain motivated, acting as a responsible and socially aware business and committing to and achieving a customer focused business plan. Its performance is above the UK average and it has reduced delays and cancellations by significantly more than target.

Bombardier Transportation picked up the Excellence in Technology award for its FLEXX Tronic WAKO system in Switzerland.  Flexx Tronic Wako is an active mechatronic tilting/roll compensation system, developed with co-operation from Liebherr, that allows double-deck trains in particular to run faster on curves. The system can tilt the car body of a double-deck train by 1.5degrees, allowing the train to run up to 15% faster on curves, with a journey time reduction of up to 10%. Comfort and ride quality is improved and expensive line straightening or new build is avoided. WAKO can be fitted to any type of train.

OBB’s Railway Power zero emission prevailed in the Excellence in Environmental Sustainability category.  The system allows Vienna’s City Airport Train to run on a CO2 free traction power system generated from 100% renewable energy and additional compensation of upstream CO2emissions is offered.  This has been possible without passing any cost onto the customer.

The award for Excellence in Marketing went to SNCF for their Selling the Dream with the ticket initiative. has formed partnerships with music venue Olympia, the French rugby league (LNR) and Guide Michelin. With Olympia a co-branded booking mini-site with offers for train passengers was created. The partnership has brought an incremental audience for Olympia of 30%. With the LNR, a competition website was set up to win tickets for the 2012 French League Final, generating more than 11,000 contacts. From October this year a new platform allows offers from partners to be bought with rail tickets in a single purchase.

The German Aerospace Centre took the honours for Excellence in Safety and Security for its Railway Collision Avoidance System (RCAS).  It combines a train-to-train communication system, a location system and a situation analysis and decision support system.  It relies only on sensors and communication technology on the train, so that it could be installed at a fraction of the cost of a system needing trackside technology.

The Excellence in Engineering sponsored by Bombardier Transportation was awarded to Spain’s SACYR for its new shaft construction method which allows minimum effect on surrounding traffic and pedestrian zones in sites of UNESCO heritage.  Construction times were reduced by half, allowing the areas by the shaft to be used after 4 months, including the return of normal traffic.

Most Innovative Rail Project of the Year sponsored by HS1 went to Dutch company Heatpoint b.v. for its ISOBLOCK Points Insulation product that increases insulation to rails, enabling them to retain sufficient heat to melt snow while requiring 50% less energy to do so.

The award for Best Partnership of the Year sponsored by Thales was awarded to Deutshe Bahn AG –for its Moving ideas campaign.  In 2012 DB announced an online platform, MovingIDEAS 2.0, to bring the entire transport and logistics industry together to collaborate on joint innovations.  The collaboration is based on speed, investing and taking risks together, lowering costs by working to goals, and changing attitudes and collaborating instead of competing. MovingIDEAS 2.0 enables an exchange in many different innovation areas, helps find supporters for new ideas, offers discussions with experts and encourages working together on new projects.

Best Integration sponsored by Network Rail was awarded to Infrabel for its Diabolo project.  Diabolo is a €678m strategic rail link for Brussels and Brussels airport, with connections to domestic and international railway corridors. It will directly connect Brussels Airport with the major axes of the Belgian network and with several European cities. Two tunnels run below the airport runways to connect to the entirely renovated Brussels-National-Airport station, and two underground branch lines connect with the new Schaerbeek to Mechelen railway line along the E19 motorway’s central reservation. Travel times from Mechelen and Antwerp will both be reduced by 30 minutes.

Northern Rail Community Ambassadors took the award for Customer Service & Information Excellence sponsored by Hitachi Europe.  The scheme was created to promote the use of local rail services with black and minority ethnic and socially excluded groups and to identify and overcome barriers to rail travel.  Northern Rail worked alongside the Department for Transport, Transport for Greater Manchester and the East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership, focusing on four locations: Blackburn, Brierfield, Rochdale and Farnworth.  They targeted a wide range of excluded groups, including Asian women, carers, residents of old people’s homes, job clubs and colleges.

The Small Rail Station of the Year went to Nordhessischer VerkehrsVerbund (NVV) for its impressive reconstruction of Eschwege station.  The station has provided benefits far wider than just for rail users – bus users, cyclists, pedestrians, local residents and the town’s economy have all benefited. It is extremely accessible in many senses – its single platform for rail and bus is step-free, 330 bus connections serve the station and it is sited in the city centre.  Passengers are rising along the rail line, not just at Eschwege; the number of connections has significantly risen and customer satisfaction is very good.

Munich Verkehrsgesellschaft mbH (MVG) took home the prize for Medium Rail Station of the Year. MVG’s plan to modernise the key stations of Munich’s underground network (Münchner Freiheit, Hauptbahnhof, Marienplatz and Sendlinger Tor stations) is the culmination of a strategic approach to coping with the forecast increase in demand for underground services and to the continued success of Munich’s public transport network. The upgrades combine attractive design with functional improvements. Improvements have been made to Munchner Freiheit, with completion of the other stations planned to be completed between 2015 and 2020.

The Large Rail Station of the Year was won by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane Group) – for its spectacular International transport hub Torino Porta Susa.  The station has re-integrated a city that previously had been separated by the main railway line for the last 150 years.  Its architectural design combines beauty with sustainability characterised by an environmentally friendly heating and ventilation system powered by solar panelled glazed skin.

The judges awarded MÁV Hungarian State Railways Freight Facility of the Year for its Cement Works LA FARGE in Királyegyháza and stone pit in Bükkösd (Hungary).  MAV’s project has capitalised on the presence of existing state railways to facilitate new rail freight operations between a new cement works and stone pit. The facility has been important for job creation in the region and takes 40 heavy duty lorries off the road for every 1000 tons of raw material carried.

Brian Simpson MEP, Chair of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee and Chair of the ERC Judging Panel said:

“I am delighted to see so many from the sector put themselves forward for these Awards.  With over 300 entries received, it is a measure of the expertise, innovation and success that exists right across the continent.  It is also a reflection of the pride and ambition of those working in the sector, providing safe, green and efficient transport for millions of people while supporting local and national economies.

I am pleased that countries from right across Europe have participated in these Awards and that evidence of best practice from both small and larger countries from the West of Europe across to the east, receive the opportunity for recognition of their efforts and innovation.”

Vice President of the European Commission, European Transport Commissioner and member of the Awards panel, Siim Kallas, said:

“I am pleased to be involved as a judge for these inaugural awards that celebrate and highlight outstanding achievements in European rail.

Awards to recognise industry excellence help to inspire others to take similar steps in the same direction and to help newcomers learn from more established operators. Sharing knowledge, expertise and experience is extremely important, not only as a way to disseminate best practice but to encourage innovation to keep Europe’s railways at the technological cutting edge.

These are important times for our industry as we expand and modernise into a seamless continental rail network, building on the achievements of the last decade.

Rail is well suited to cope with the expected increases in transport demand and, as a sustainable way of travel, will help to lessen our dependency on oil and meet the EU’s ambitious but necessary targets on reducing greenhouse emissions.

The award finalists know very well that rail has to move with the times – and they have been instrumental in making sure that it has done so. I applaud all the efforts that the European rail industry has made to improve its efficiency and move passengers and freight users towards the heart of its development strategy.

The finalists also, I am sure, share my own aims. These are to increase rail’s overall attractiveness by improving the efficiency, quality and punctuality of services to be offered across Europe at competitive prices. And of course, keeping our railways safe at the same time.

This is how rail can enhance its position as a real travel alternative – for both passengers and freight.

The Commission’s proposals in the Fourth Railway Package are designed to turn this vision into reality. They focus on interoperability and safety, in particular strengthening the powers of the European Railway Agency; they will extend market opening to domestic passenger traffic; they will reinforce requirements on institutional separation between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings.

It is by working together, sharing ideas and experiences, and by following the example of those highlighted by these awards as industry success stories that we can make all this happen.”