Fundraising efforts recognised at Whistles

The Golden Whistles tropies - celebrating operating excellence

Charitable fundraising through railtours and joint working between Network Rail and train operators was celebrated at the 2024 Golden Whistle Awards, held on 8 March and 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 Network Rail’s Southern Region MD and CIRO Chair Ellie Burrows, who presented a special Golden Whistle to Fiona Tordoff in recognition of her work as CEO of CIRO for the last 12 years as she prepares to stand down. Prior to that, a morning conference on operational issues included presentations from Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines and Freightliner CEO Tim Shoveller.

The Special Award was presented to the Branch Line Society for its organisation of charitable railtours, which have raised more than £1.25 million for a range of causes over the past decade. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to GB Railfreight CEO John Smith, who built up the freight operator from scratch to become a multi-million-pound business. He follows in the footsteps of Chris Green, Chris Gibb, Gordon Pettitt and Howard Smith, who were previous winners of this award.

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. The Gold Whistle for outstanding operating team went to the joint team of Network Rail and operators which forms the Devon & Cornwall Local Railway Partnership, while the award for outstanding operations by an individual was presented to Nick Wellington, a signaller for Network Rail in Kent.

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 – Greater Anglia; Silver – Chiltern Railways
Long Distance: Gold – Greater Anglia
Regional: Gold – Merseyrail; Silver – West Midlands Trains
Freight Operators (based on the Arrivals to Fifteen (A2F) measure)
Gold – Rail Operations Group; Silver – Freightliner Heavy Haul
Minimising Delay Minutes on Self (passenger and freight operators)
Gold – Greater Anglia; Silver – London Overground; Wild Card award for small operators – Lumo/Hull Trains
Network Rail Route (minimising delay minutes)
Gold – Scotland; Silver – Central
London Underground (based on the ‘services operated all week’ metric)
Gold – Northern Line; Silver – Victoria Line
Irish Rail
Right Time Punctuality: Gold – Cork Commuter
Minimising Delay Minutes: Gold – Heuston Commuter
Outstanding Individual Operator
Gold: Nick Wellington, Network Rail
Silver: Amy Turnbull, Network Rail
Highly Commended: Emma Lowe, Network Rail
Outstanding Operating Team
Gold: Devon & Cornwall Local Railway Partnership
Silver: Coronation Delivery Team
Highly Commended: Future Rules Working Group
Special Award
Branch Line Society for organisation of charitable railtours
Lifetime Achievement Award
John Smith