20 years of celebrating exceptional transport projects and people: the 20th anniversary of the UK National Transport Awards

The highly regarded UK National Transport Awards returned for the first time since the pandemic on 5th October 2023 at the Westminster Park Plaza in London. With 600 guests in attendance, UK Transport Minister, Richard Holden MP, lauded the event's return to the transport calendar and Welsh Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters MS outlined the innovative policy initiatives being taking forward in Wales.

Transport Minister, Richard Holden MP said:-

"The National Transport Awards are not just about celebrating accomplishments, they are an opportunity to acknowledge the immense dedication that go into making our transport system safer, more efficient, and more sustainable.

If tonight's proceedings are about the contributions that you have made, then they are a milestone in our journey to embrace innovation and inclusivity in our transport systems.

This is the 20th anniversary of the NTAs and here's to 20 more years of achievement."

It was a big night for the West Midlands as Transport for West Midlands picked up Regional Transport Authority of the Year not least for their performance during the 2022 Commonwealth Games and West Midlands Metro won Tram Operator of the Year. Kate Evans, Bus Supervisor at Transport for West Midlands deservedly won Frontline Employee / Community Champion of the Year.

The much coveted Bus Operator of the Year award was won by Stagecoach South. Improvements for passengers have included low-floor access for wheelchair and buggy users, next stop announcements, smartcard and contactless ticketing, real-time bus information and an app to improve access to its services and products. Extra services with higher frequency have been delivered such as the Portsmouth to Chichester service. 94% of Stagecoach South's Portsmouth customers are satisfied with their bus service according to Transport Focus's independent bus passenger experience survey with passengers no doubt happy with its 93% punctuality rating.

Rail Operator of the Year went to MTR Elizabeth Line. The service has settled in smoothly and with such a high level of reliability, given the complexity of the three signalling interfaces involved which is a very powerful reflection on MTR's management approach and strong leadership. Passenger numbers continue to grow rapidly with a large proportion of journeys in the UK now being made on the Line making it the UK's largest rail passenger carrier. 701,000 passenger journeys were made on 6th July 2023 alone and ridership on the line is currently above expected levels. 4.1 m journeys are made a week, 700 services a day with up to 24 trains per hour in each direction through central London on 128 km of track through 17 boroughs. 8000 assisted 'Turn Up And Go' journeys were made in the last 12 months. The Elizabeth Line was the only operator with a higher On Time percentage in the latest quarter compared with the same quarter last year. Performance and customer satisfaction remains strong. Open access operator Lumo received a Commendation in this category.

The final operator category, Ferry Operator of the Year, was won by Uber Boat by Thames Clippers with its performance demonstrating that investment in infrastructure pays off in passenger growth. A record 4.5million plus passengers travelled with UBTC in the UK's capital city in 2022, in part due to a new pier, new services and operational improvements.
Alongside passenger growth success, it is also driving forward environmental sustainability and innovation. UBTC is working to reduce total carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030, with any new built boat, including the 3 new hybrids, achieving at least a 75% reduction in carbon emissions vs. the current fleet.

Lord Peter Hendy of Richmond Hill CBE and outgoing Chief Executive of Transport Focus, Anthony Smith, were both given Lifetime Achievement Awards for their outstanding achievements in transport and their commitment to making a lasting contribution to the industry.

The Outstanding Contribution to Transport Award was won by Rachel Skinner CBE, a professional that has made an exceptional contribution to the transport sector. Rachel is an Executive Director at WSP, sitting on the UK Board to lead Corporate Responsibility and Government Relations. Prior to her current role, she led WSP's 600-strong UK transport planning and advisory team for several years. In 2020-21, Rachel served as the 156th President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and she is a Patron of Women in Transport, having been one of its founding board members since 2005. Rachel was awarded a CBE for services to infrastructure in the 2022 New Year Honours list.

Exemplary Contribution to Net Zero went to Oxfordshire County Council & Oxford City Council for their Zero Emission Zone. Their winning entry highlighted the technical planning, collaboration and political will required to introduce a Clean Air Zone for Oxford, in a context where such schemes are often deemed as controversial or unpopular despite the Climate Emergency. The Oxford Zero Emission Zone aims to achieve cleaner air, reduced transport-related CO2 emissions and improved quality of life by encouraging people to make positive changes to their travel behaviour. Aside from vehicle reduction benefits, it has also been a catalyst for accelerating the transition to zero emission vehicles in Oxford, with several businesses already shifting towards zero emission vehicles within their fleets.

Glasgow City Council's Ultra Smart Cycle System followed up its award at the Scottish Transport Awards, in June, by winning the Exemplary Approach to Active Travel & Public Space.  The council said the system had been designed to make cycling safer and more convenient, and that it was working with local residents and businesses to promote its use.

Anthony Smith, Chair of the Judging Panel said:

"What a twelve months! Transport users and the transport industry have been hit by various shocks. To name a few; inflation, costs spiralling, on-going Covid and other health issues, IT issues, industrial action and unrest, staff shortages, shifting work patterns, funding challenges, passenger numbers and revenue challenges and patchy performance.

However, this is what brings out the best in transport people. That can do, we keep the country going, we can deliver, we will get the buses and trains out and running attitude that makes the transport industry such a great one to work with. It is very much a people industry, despite the importance of technology and kit – its great people that keep the country moving.

As the UK National Transport Awards show there is much to celebrate. Great staff, projects, innovation, progress, leadership, attitudes and progress. Transport user satisfaction remain resilient – plenty of improvements to come but day to day the industry is delivering."

Full list of winners and commendations

1. Regional Transport Authority of the Year

  • Winner: Transport for West Midlands
  • Highly Commended: HITRANS

2. Exemplary approach to Active Travel & Public Space

  • Winner: Glasgow City Council – Ultra Smart Cycle System
  • Highly Commended: Leeds City Councl – Mabgate/Lincoln Green Transformation
  • Commended: Hackney Council: Rebuilding a Greener Hackney

3. Best Bus Service

  • Winner: Flixbus
  • Highly Commended: Transport for Wales: Traws Cymru T1

4. Ferry Operator of the Year

  • Uber Boat by Thames Clippers: Uber Boat by Thames Clippers

5. Excellence in Road Safety, Traffic Management and Enforcement

  • Winner: Stagecoach East: Intelligent Speed Assist
  • Highly Commended: Lothian Buses: LB Roads

6. Transport Hub of the Year

  • Winner: AGS Airports & Aberdeen International Airport

7. Design, Engineering & Construction Project of the Year

  • Winner: Liverpool City Region Combined Authority: Class 777 Fleet Replacement
  • Highly Commended: Plymouth City Council with Balfour Beatty & Aecom: Forder Valley Link Road
  • Highly Commended: Transport for London: Bank Station Capacity Upgrade

8. Exemplary contribution to Net Zero

  • Winner: Oxfordshire County Council & Oxford City Council: Oxford Zero Emission Zone
  • Highly Commended: BAM Nuttall - Cement Free Concrete Alternative

9. Best Practice in Diversity, Inclusivity and Accessibility

  • Winner: City of London Corporation: The City of London Street Accessibility Tool (CoLSAT)
  • Highly Commended: Ideas Ltd: Inclusively Designed Customer Touchpoints for Elizabeth Line Surface Stations

10. Campaign of the Year

  • Winner: Avanti West Coast: Campaign to increase new female driver recruits
  • Highly Commended: British Transport Police: Speak Up Interrupt
  • Highly Commended: Network Rail: Small Talk Saves Lives

11. Digital and Technology Excellence in Transport

  • Winner: BT: BT's Active Intelligence & Network Rail transforming UK railways
  • Highly Commended: First Bus UK: UK wide rollout of Tap On, Tap Off technology across entire fleet

12. Frontline Employee / Community Champion of the Year

  • Winner: Transport for West Midlands: Kate Evans, Bus Station Supervisor

Highly Commended:

  • AGS Airports & Aberdeen International Airport: Lee McCann, Communications Manager
  • Brighton & Hove Buses: Martine Patey, Bus Driver
  • Great Western Railway: Coral, Dan and Robin, Accessibility Mentors
  • Network Rail: Gary Clements, Section Superviser
  • Stagecoach Highlands: Louise MacKintosh, Bus Driver
  • Transport for London: Kevin Eva, Customer Services Manager

13. Best Alliance / Collaboration of the Year

  • Winner: Cornwall Council: Transport for Cornwall Partnership (Cornwall bus operators, GWR and Cornwall Council)
  • Highly Commended: Leicester City Council and Partners: Leicester Buses Enhanced Partnership

14. Bus Operator of the Year – endorsed by Transport Focus

  • Winner: Stagecoach South

15. Rail Operator of the Year – endorsed by Transport Focus

  • Winner: Crossrail/Elizabeth Line
  • Highly Commended: Lumo

16. UK Tram Operator of the Year – endorsed by Transport Focus

  • Winner: West Midlands Metro

17. Excellence in Cross-agency Collaboration

  • NATS: Silencing the Skies for The Queen's Funeral
  • Network Rail and South Western Rail: King's Coronation - biggest movement of military personnel by the rail industry since Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965
  • Network Rail: Rail Industry (COVID) Memorial Day
  • Transport Scotland: The Death of Her Majesty the Queen, the funeral cortege from Balmoral to Edinburgh

18. Outstanding Contribution to Transport

  • Rachel Skinner CBE

19. Lifetime Contribution to Transport

  • Peter, Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill CBE

20. Lifetime Contribution to Transport

  • Anthony Smith

For further information
Contact name: Grant Poulton, Managing Director, Transport Times
Tel: 07534 536610

Email: [email protected]

Notes to editors

1. The National Transport Awards are organised by Transport Times Events, supported by Department for Transport, Transport for Wales, Transport Scotland, Department for Infrastructure (Northern Ireland), Transport Focus, ITS (UK) and Passenger Transport magazine.

2. The awards were judged by:

  • Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of Transport Focus & Chair of the Judging Panel
  • Stephen Fidler, Co-Director for Local Transport, Department for Transport
  • Daisy Narayanan MBE, Head of Placemaking and Mobility, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Jo Field, Chief Executive of JFG Communications & President of Women in Transport
  • Iain Stewart MP, Chair, House of Commons Transport Select Committee
  • Caroline Stickland, Chief Executive, Transport for All
  • Max Sugarman, Chief Executive, ITS (UK)

3. The full shortlist can be found here