NEW judges recruited for the prestigious National Rail Awards scheme - the railway industry's Oscars - include former Rail Regulator John Swift QC and retired deputy chief inspector of railways Alan Cooksey. Swift is a specialist in competition law at the London bar and now heads Monckton Chambers at Grays Inn. Cooksey is currently a technical adviser to the Railtrack administrators.
Also joining the panel is First Engineering chief executive Tony Smith, in his capacity as a member of the Railway Industry and Railway Civil Engineers Association.
This trio of additions adds considerable experience and insight to an already widely respected judging panel, chaired once again by Sir Robert Horton.
Awards director Clive Nicholls says: 'The credibility of any awards scheme is rooted in the credibility of its judging panel - and the NRA team's skills, knowledge, experience and insight are unsurpassed.'
The qualifying period for NRA2002 ends on 30 April when all entries must be submitted.
Assessment and 'due diligence' visits take place during the summer with the presentation dinner at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London on 5 September.
Swift said: 'I am delighted to join such a distinguished panel of judges. The NRA is a conspicuously successful example of innovation within the railways. It is one form of competition from which everyone benefits and which sets increasingly high standards for those who participate.'
Fellow new judge Cooksey said: 'It's a great honour to be asked to join the prestigious judging panel for these awards. I'm looking forward to seeing the good work going on to strengthen the railways.'
At a time when the railway industry continues to experience media and political pressure, the NRA scheme is designed to boost morale and pride in the job by recognising and rewarding achievement at all levels and in all areas of the industry.
'It's been fascinating seeing previous winners proudly display their trophies in boardrooms and reception areas, as well as mentioning their wins on letterheads and in advertising, ' said Horton.
INFOPLUS For further details or advice contact Clive Nicholls, NRA Awards director, Emap Active, Bretton Court, Bretton, Peterborough PE3 8DZ e-mail nra2002@emap. com or visit www. natrailawards.co.uk
This year's awards are:
Railway Personality Open to anyone in the industry - from front-line operational and maintenance staff to chief executives, directors and chairmen.
Freight Achievement of the Year Open to both individuals and companies, this award will recognise those who have made a major contribution to developing railfreight business in the UK.
Innovation of the Year Open to companies and individuals, entries could focus on new products, operations initiatives, maintenance and construction, and freight and passenger services. It could be a single, isolated idea or specific development which had a massive effect, or a widescale high-impact project.
Sir Robert Horton Safety Award Open to individuals or companies, the judges are looking for a tangible commitment to safety.
This could be a single action but is more likely to be a change that influences safety for years to come. This award is not just about spending money but about showing an effective determination to run the safest possible railway.
Best Operator Open to both passenger and freight companies together with light rail/metro operators, this award will assess how well those that run trains serve their customers.
Major Project of the Year (Civil) For civil engineering projects with a total cost exceeding £10M. The scheme should be completed within the judging year (1 May 2001-30 April 2002).
Project of the Year (Civil) For civil engineering projects not exceeding £10M, judging criteria as Major Project.
Project of the Year Open to all projects, regardless of size (with the exception of civil engineering). It may be new trains, refurbishment, signalling, improved customer facilities or new technology.
Achievement of the Year Awarded to the individual (or possibly company) who has done the most to further the cause of the railway industry.
Best Maintenance Operator infrastructure/rolling stock This award is about quality of service, effectiveness, initiative and innovation.