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Most Interesting Awards

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The rail industry is pretty good at rewarding the biggest and the best. Year round, there are events and ceremonies which do just that. Few, however, set out to recognise the projects and schemes that have sparked the collective imagination of the industry – the most interesting.

From a shortlist drawn up by the editorial team at the rail engineer and RailStaff, 12 awards were handed out at Leicester’s Athena during the inaugural Rail Exec Club Most Interesting awards on 29 November. Where the RailStaff Awards recognises the extraordinary achievements of individuals, this was a celebration of the commercial collaborations and partnerships that are moving the industry forward.

Judging was carried out by a specialist panel of industry leaders, including Professor Simon Iwnicki, current chairman of the Railway Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), and David Clarke, director of FutureRailway.

The theme of the evening was Manhattan. As guests arrived at Athena – a charming Art Deco cinema in Leicester city centre – they were greeted by a solo clarinet player and invited to walk through Central Park, artificial turf under foot, to the ‘Coyote Ugly’ bar upstairs. Dance troupe ‘Manhattan’ provided the entertainment ahead of dinner and the main event, the awards ceremony itself.

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And the winner is…

Categories looked at the best new designs and innovations that rail engineering has had to offer in 2014, with awards recognising the dedicated ETCS/ERTMS test site set up on the Hertford loop, a new high-speed rotating flywheel energy storage system and the New Tube for London concept from PriestmanGoode, which will form the basis of London Underground’s new deep-level Tube trains.

Young Rail Professional’s (YRP) took home the Most Interesting training and development programme award for its ambassador programme which looks to recent graduates to visit schools and colleges around the country to encourage the next generation to pursue careers in the rail industry.

British teams working on Riyadh Metro and the North West Rail Link in Australia were among the nominees for the Most Interesting international participation by a UK company. The award eventually went to Hitachi, which moved its global headquarters to London earlier in the year.

The £895 million redevelopment of Reading station, which received a visit from Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year, was recognised in the major infrastructure project category. Dawlish may have missed out on the major project award but it did receive a mention as the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership (DCRP), which developed TheRivieraLine.com, won Most Interesting community engagement activity.

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Most, most interesting

Winner of the Most Interesting thing that occurred in 2014 was the accuracy of the Crossrail Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs). With Crossrail’s new tunnels running very close to some existing underground structures, such as London Underground’s tube lines, accuracy was essential to prevent disaster.

Representing Crossrail, Hochtief Murphy Joint Venture (HMJV) and Herrenknecht, James Rolland, chief surveyor, Murphy Group, said, ‘Awards like this and recognition like this and articles in magazines move our industry forward, develop more interest in the rail industry. Hopefully more graduates come in once they’ve seen the technology and the opportunities and the more that you can get interest, the more people you can get in, the better our industry’s going to be.’

Ahead of what will be another busy festive period for the industry, the evening provided an opportunity to honour projects and partnerships big and small. The next 12 months will deliver more worthy winners and the Most Interesting Awards will be back in 2015 to ensure they don’t go unrecognised.

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