Southern driver Steve Copley, described in his nomination as a ‘commuter’s hero’, was named the RailStaff Awards Train Driver of the Year.

Steve, possibly the only driver in the world with his own hashtag, hosts a daily guess the year quiz in an attempt to brighten the day of his passengers.

Says Steve, ‘I am absolutely overwhelmed. I never thought for a million years that I would win considering the tough competition from people who have had fatalities and done a lot more worthy things than I have.

‘All I’ve tried to do is keep people talking on a train. That’s all, that’s it and I’m really humbled.’

Steve, who is based at Victoria, worked for London Underground as a track engineer before achieving a childhood goal of becoming a driver nine years ago.

He explained where the idea of hosting a quiz came from. ‘It started off sitting at a red signal when there’s only so many things you can say… It was just something to do to pass the time.’

Steve thought it was the ‘human touch’ he provides which had led to his nomination. ‘You can put the automatic announcement out, say we’re sitting at a red [signal], but that doesn’t really help anyone.’

Hitachi Rail Europe sponsored the Train Driver of the Year category this year – a reflection of its growing status as one of the UK’s premier train builders.

In September last year, the company opened its Newton Aycliffe site, which is currently delivering the Class 385 fleet for ScotRail. It later acquired Italian manufacturer AnsaldoBreda and a majority stake in Ansaldo STS, developing its rolling stock and rail systems business across Europe.

Says Ian Dawson, head of operation and delivery, Hitachi Rail Europe, ‘Hitachi are delighted to have this particular award and Steve is, quite rightly, humbled because the competition was incredible, it really was. When I read all the citations it was a really, really tough category to decide on but he’s done an excellent job. If you get on his train in the morning, it’s a different experience.

‘His people have spoken. He could probably have won three maybe even four of these categories, so I take my hat off to him. If Hitachi had drivers up and down the line, I would certainly recommend that my MD hired him tomorrow.’

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Stephen Head (left) with City Surveys’ Ian Johnson.

The final accolade of the night, Rail Person of the Year, was won by Adam Stead. As well as running his own consultancy business, Adam is a prominent supporter of Young Rail Professionals (YRP), the Railway Study Association and INCOSE. This year, Adam spearheaded Rail Week, a series of some 150 events around the country run over one week in July to engage young people with the rail industry.

Adam’s friend and YRP colleague Stephen Head, who collected the award on his behalf, described Adam’s passion for the rail industry.

Says Stephen, ‘Adam’s done a tremendous amount of work with Young Rail Professionals, which is all voluntary, and that’s all about promoting the rail industry and promoting young people in the industry.

‘He’s some fantastic initiatives and really helped YRP grow as an organisation, helped a lot of young people in the industry come together and network, and just to understand more about this industry we work in.’

This year the sponsor of the Rail Person of the Year category was City Surveys. A Network Rail principal contractor, City Surveys started with just one member of staff and a couple of pieces of surveying equipment. The company, which offers track surveys and monitoring, ground investigations, ecology surveys and utility mapping services, now employs around 60 people at three offices around the country.

Ian Johnson, key accounts director at City Surveys, said he believed the category ‘embodies the entire awards’ in the way it recognises such a wide variety of roles.

He added, ’A lot of the awards ceremonies seem to focus on companies, teams, organisations, significant projects… and too often the individual can be the person who gives the most and is most valuable to that project.’

TRAIN DRIVER OF THE YEAR HIGHLY COMMENDED

Davinder Shanker, East Midlands Trains

IanPalmer, Northern

RAIL PERSON OF THE YEAR HIGHLY COMMENDED

Lee Clinton, telent
Ajmal Akram, Great Western Railway