COP26 efforts rewarded at Golden Whistles

The efforts of the rail industry during the COP26 climate change conference last autumn were rewarded at the annual Golden Whistles event, organised by Modern Railways magazine and the Chartered Institution of Railway Operators.

The brainchild of CIRO luminary and now West Dorset MP Chris Loder, the Golden Whistles event was founded in 2010 to promote best practice and celebrate excellence in railway operations. Awards are handed out for the best operators based on statistics over the past year as well for individuals and teams who have gone the extra mile to deliver examples of outstanding operations.

Keynote speaker at this year’s Golden Whistles was LNER Managing Director David Horne, while a morning conference on operational issues included presentations from GB Railfreight MD John Smith, Elizabeth line Chief Operating Officer and CIRO Chair Howard Smith, and Network Rail’s North West & Central MD Tim Shoveller.

Recognising the stellar effort to provide flawless rail provision for COP26, the Special Award this year was jointly presented to the teams from Scotland’s Railway which carefully planned and operated services around Glasgow during the event and to those involved in organising the special ‘Climate Train’ from Amsterdam to Glasgow which carried delegates to the conference, including operators Avanti West Coast and Eurostar.

After a pandemic-enforced break last year, there was a further entrant to the Golden Whistles operating hall of fame with the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Gordon Pettitt. He follows in the footsteps of previous entrants Chris Green and Chris Gibb.

The stellar work of operators was reflected in a strong field of entries in the awards for individuals and teams, judged by a panel from the CIRO. This included seven shortlisted entries in the Teams category, the Gold award being won by the team from East Midlands Railway which supported Network Rail to test the overhead wires for the recently completed Bedford to Corby electrification. The individual winner was Adam Flint from Network Rail Wessex Route, whose tendency to beyond the call of duty was demonstrated most especially following the derailment at Salisbury last October.

Prior to these prizes, a range of awards were presented to passenger and freight operators, Network Rail Routes, London Underground lines and Irish Rail routes for best performance based on operating statistics. Gold awards were presented for best in class, and silver awards for the biggest improvement over the last year.

The full list of winners is detailed below.


Passenger Operators (based on On Time Moving Annual Average statistics)

London and South East: Gold – c2c; Silver – South Western Railway

Regional: Gold – Merseyrail; Silver – Northern

Long Distance: Gold – Greater Anglia; Silver – LNER


Freight Operators (based on Arrivals to Fifteen (A2F) measure)

Gold – Direct Rail Services; Silver – Colas Rail


Minimising Delay Minutes on Self (passenger and freight operators)

Gold – CrossCountry; Silver – Freightliner Heavy Haul


Network Rail Route (minimising delay minutes)

Gold – East Coast; Silver – Wessex


London Underground (based on the ‘services operated all week’ metric)

Gold – Northern Line; Silver – District Line


Irish Rail

Right Time Punctuality: Gold – Waterford

Minimising Delay Minutes: Gold – Maynooth Commuter


Outstanding Individual Operator

Gold: Adam Flint, Network Rail Wessex Route

Silver: Sarah Higgins, West Midlands Trains


Outstanding Operating Team

Gold: L2C OLE testing, East Midlands Railway

Silver: Chiltern Railways/West Midlands Trains Collaboration Committee

Highly Commended: Bristol East Junction Renewal Project Team; LNER Service Delivery Team; GWR Train Planning Team; Operational Delivery Team (North West and Central), Northern; East Coast Upgrade – King’s Cross Team, Network Rail, LNER and Hitachi


Special Award

Scotland’s Railway COP26 team and Climate Train


Lifetime Achievement Award

Gordon Pettitt