Northern Rail is celebrating after scooping the title of SSP Train Operator of the Year at the prestigious Rail Business Awards, which were held at London’s Hilton Park Lane.
Northern won praise from the judges for going the extra mile to deliver more for its customers and for improving the punctuality and reliability of services, which helped secure a two-year extension to its franchise, meaning it will run until at least September 2013.
The judges also recognised that at a time when people are watching what they spend, Northern’s value for money fares and determination to provide consistently high levels of customer service has helped to continue to attract new customers.
Judges said: “No growth was built into the franchise specification and no significant investment anticipated. But what a difference the reality has been, which is what made this entry stand out from all the others. Northern’s joint owners – Serco and Abellio – were required to invest £250,00 per year as part of the franchise agreement, so far they have actually invested £25million, and in doing so have been able to attract £80million from external sources – a total of over £100million in six years.”
Ian Bevan, Managing Director said: “We’re delighted to win this award which is fantastic recognition of the efforts of all our employees to continue to improve the service we offer our passengers.
“We’ve worked hard to deliver an increasingly punctual and reliable service, and this was recognised when we secured a two-year extension to our franchise last year. However, we aren’t complacent and everyone is committed to making sure we deliver even more for our customers over the next three years.”
Northern was also highly commended for its Northern Stars customer service recognition scheme and the launch of Skylight, which is the system it uses to monitor sickness absence and was designed by the operator’s own IS team. Northern’s Heaton depot was also commended for being the only maintenance facility to receive Rail Industry Supplier Approval Scheme certification for C4 heavy engineering overhauls.