Golden Whistle Awards

Event date



Marriott Grosvenor Square
Duke Street
United Kingdom

Golden Whistle Awards

4th Friday Club Event

Sponsored By

 Tracsis Plc Logo

In association with

Porterbrook Porterbrook

The brainchild of Institution of Railway Operators luminary Chris Loder, the Golden Whistles event was founded in 2010 to promote best practice and celebrate excellence in railway operations. The annual event now incorporates a morning conference at which railway operators discuss developments aimed at improving operations, followed by a networking lunch and the handing out of the Golden Whistle awards for excellence in railway operating.



HOST: Dick Fearn

Formerly CEO, Irish Rail

Dick Fearn

Dick Fearn has 40 years’ senior management experience in the rail industry in Britain and Ireland. He served for 10 years as COO and then CEO of Iarnród Éireann (Irish Railways). With British Rail from 1973 to 1996, he had a number of rail operations roles, culminating in senior executive posts as the Divisional Director of the Thames & Chiltern Division and later the South Eastern Division of BR’s Network SouthEast. At the time of rail privatisation in the UK, Dick was appointed to the post of Managing Director of The South Eastern Train Company, subsequently moving to Railtrack plc as Zone Director of North West and later Midlands Zones.




Steve Murphy

Steve Murphy was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of MTR UK in October 2020.

As CEO, Steve is charged with maximising opportunities presented across rail, property and infrastructure in the emerging post COVID-19 business landscape. MTR UK, which replaces MTR Europe, will continue to manage existing businesses including MTR Elizabeth line and the joint venture with FirstGroup for the South Western Railway franchise.

Steve had previously led the award-winning train operating company MTR Elizabeth line (MTREL) as Managing Director since its inception in 2014. Achieving first place sector status for measurements as wide-ranging as on-time running, safety standards, workplace diversity and customer service, Steve has been credited as the driving force behind MTREL’s escalating success story.

With the foundations of his 30-year career in British Rail and industry experience including senior posts at Chiltern Railways, the Arriva Group and London Overground Rail Operations Limited (LOROL), Steve’s mid-career legacy is a combination of service, efficiency and empathy; an approach that has inspired an industry.

At MTREL, Steve led an impressive investment in inclusion, apprenticeships and safety (following Samaritans’ training, his MTREL frontline teams prevented more than 250 suicides over a two-year period).

As a respected senior figure in the transport sector, Steve balanced the unique requirements of MTREL’s concession agreement with TfL with a pioneering partnership working with trade unions to ensure a zero percent industrial action rate. This was combined with exceptional employee support, strict supplier targets and a genuine desire to reflect the communities in which MTREL operates (more than 75% of MTREL’s workforce is local).


Whistles-TrophiesThe Golden Whistle awards – in which the trophies feature that archetypal element of efficient railway operating, the Acme Thunderer whistle – celebrate the best of railway operating and are handed out to those companies making the greatest strides in punctuality and other key indicators.


• Right time arrivals – Inter-city TOCs. Golden Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. Based on Network Rail moving annual average right time data to end of Period 9.

• Right time arrivals – London and South East TOCs. Golden Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. Based on Network Rail moving annual average right time data to end of Period 9.

• Right time arrivals – Regional TOCs. Golden Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. Based on Network Rail moving annual average right time data to end of Period 9.

• Freight performance – FOCs. Golden Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. Based on ‘A2F’ (Arrival to Fifteen) moving annual average scores of freight operating companies.

• Minimising delay minutes – operators. Golden Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. All TOCs and FOCs assessed for reduction in ‘TOC/FOC on self’ delays, moving annual average to end of Period 9.

• Minimising delay minutes – Network Rail Routes. Golden Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. All Routes assessed for delay minutes caused to all operators, moving annual average to end of Period 9.

• London Underground Line performance. All Lines assessed for reduction in lost customer hours to end of Period 9. Golden Whistle for most improved, Silver Whistle for second most improved.

• Irish Rail performance. Gold Whistles for right time punctuality and minimising delay minutes across all Irish Rail routes.

• Outstanding Operator/Operating Team. Golden Whistle for an individual / operating team that has gone above and beyond in making a contribution.

• Special Award. Each year the IRO judging panel chooses an individual or team and awards a Golden Whistle for special acts of courage, selflessness or quick thinking.

• Lifetime Achievement Award. A special award handed out each year to an individual whose made a major contribution to the improvement of railway operations across their year. Entrants in the operating 'hall of fame' so far include Chris Green, Chris Gibb and Gordon Pettitt.


Most of the Golden Whistle awards are made on the basis of statistical information compiled by the industry and do not require companies to enter. There is one category for which the winners are selected by a panel of CIRO judges and for which entries are invited:

The Golden Whistle for the Best Individual Operator / Operating Team – awarded each year to an individual or team that has gone above and beyond in its contribution.


Every year Golden Whistles are awarded to outstanding operators. Why not nominate your outstanding operator, or operating team for the next awards?

You can nominate an individual or team for the 2023 awards here



09.05 Welcome from the Chair, Glen Merryman

09.10 Phoenix from the ashes: rebuilding reliability: Chris Fowler, Network Operations Director, Govia Thameslink Railway

09.30 Freight persists in a changing railway: Maggie Simpson, Director General, Rail Freight Group

09.50 The industry partnership creating a new operating paradigm: Toufic Machnouk, Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, Network Rail

10.10 Questions and discussion

10.20 Coffee

10.45 Making the railway operator more smoothly: Tracsis Transport Consultancy

11.05 Luminate Traffic Management: Tom Desmond, Director, Operational Capability, Network Rail and David Davidson, Interim Route Director (Western), Network Rail

11.25 Preparation for GBR: the role of operations: Andrew Haines, Chief Executive, Network Rail

11.45 Questions and discussion


12 noon Pre-lunch drinks

12.45 Guests enter the dining room for lunch

14.30 After-lunch speech from Steve Murphy, CEO, MTR UK

14.50 Dick Fearn presents the Golden Whistle Awards

16.15 Close


Tables of 10 at this event cost £1,500 +VAT, sponsorship details available on request. Contact Dave Lane via email or call on 07795 031051