The Big Rail Diversity Challenge 2021 – Back with beans and whistles!

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On 15 September 2021, after 18 months of virtual meetings, a growth in online events and months of home working, 550 delegates from across the UK rail sector rallied at Newark Showground to attend the sixth Big Rail Diversity Challenge. 

As industry charity Women in Rail’s annual flagship event, The Big Rail Diversity Challenge is the only rail industry event showcasing the diversity the UK railway industry is seeking to achieve, with teams being gender balanced and comprising people from diverse background including (and by no means limited to) race, ethnicity, religion, gender, socio economic background, and any form of disability.

Delegates took part in a plethora of physically and mentally demanding challenges – including Build a Scarecrow, Haka and It’s a Knockout! – aiming to show that gender balanced, and diverse teams work better together, are more innovative and creative, and to raise awareness of the business benefits of fostering a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture.

“The Big Rail Diversity Challenge is an important step in the rail industry agenda. It openly demonstrates that the rail industry is a dynamic, creative and exciting sector and, by encouraging participants to work together in gender balanced and diverse teams, it outlines rail’s commitment to improving diversity within its workforce and to fostering a more inclusive culture. The event is also a great fun and a fantastic way to team build and network with peers and colleagues, regardless of their grade and role!” comments Adeline Ginn MBE, Founder of Women in Rail.

Amongst the challenge suppliers, rail industry charity Railway Benefit Fund had participants supporting one another through the toughest of times, blindfolded and carrying ‘beans’ through an inflatable obstacle course as part of their Bring on the Beans challenge, whilst British Transport Police had teams ‘Look Beyond the Obvious’ whilst uncovering hidden rail stations amongst ice creams, sandcastles and other coastal attractions in a beautiful bespoke drawing, courtesy of one of their artistic colleagues.

After a tiring day of balloon modelling, Broadway routines, and countless inflatables, awards were presented, with special thanks to the event’s Headline Sponsor, CPMS – Egis and Key Challenge Sponsor, Morson Group.

The ‘Best Team Name Award’ went to Thales Ground Transportation Systems for ‘A Town called Thales’, presented by Morson Group’s Support Services Manager, James Room.

‘The BTP Look Beyond the Obvious Award’, judged and presented by Alison Evans, Superintendent, Disruption, Drones and Trespass Improvements Programme of the British Transport Police, was won by ‘VolkerRail – Back on Track’ from VolkerRail.

The Railway Benefit Fund’s ‘Bring on the Beans Award’ challenge was presented by Suzy Powell, Fundraising manager for Railway Benefit Fund to ‘The Certifiables’ of Network Certification Body.

‘The Most Collaborative Teamwork Award’ was judged by Women in Rail charity trustee, Rajinder Pryor MBE, Senior Account Manager at Network Rail Telecom, and Chair Adeline Ginn MBE, Legal and Marketing Director and Head of EDI at CPMS – Egis, across two of the event’s favourite challenges – It’s a Knockout and Walk the Plank. The winner was ‘Morgan Sindall Mallards’ from Morgan Sindall for displaying outstanding teamwork and motivational support.

And finally, the most coveted trophy of the day ‘The Team of the Year Award’ for achieving the highest overall score with an impressive 258 out of a possible 260, went to ‘From Rags to Riches’ from Central Rail Systems Alliance. The 2021 winner’s trophy was presented by Headline Sponsor CPMS – Egis’ CEO Mat Baine.

On the day, there was also a Charity Tuck Shop and a Hamper Raffle, which were kindly sponsored by Fundraising Sponsors Thales Ground Transportation Systems – which helped raise £1,150.00 for the Women in Rail Charity.

The official images from the event will shortly be added to The Big Rail Diversity Challenge website: – and bookings are already open for #BigRail2022! Add Wednesday 22nd June 2022 to your diary and we hope to see you there!

Thank you to all our 2021 attending teams, including:

CPMS-Egis, Morson Group, Thales Ground Transportation Systems AEGIS Engineering Systems Ltd, Alstom, Angel Trains, Arcadis Consulting UK, Arup, CAF, Central Rail Systems Alliance, Costain Skanksa JV, Direct Rail Services, East Midlands Railway, GB Railfreight. Heathrow Express, Knorr-Bremse Rail System (UK) Limited, McGinley Support Services (Infrastucture) Ltd, Morgan Sindall, Motion Rail, Mott MacDonald, MTR Elizabeth line, Network Certification Body, Pandrol, Rail Delivery Group, Railway Industry Association, Resourcing Solutions Limited, Risktec Solutions Ltd, SCS Railways, Serco Ltd, Siemens Mobility Limited, Siemens Mobility Ltd, Skanska UK and Partners, Systra, Transpennine Route Upgrade East, Trenitalia c2c Ltd, Unipart Rail, Vextrix, VolkerFitzpatrick and VolkerRail.

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