CRA 2014 winner - Operator of the Year

Northern Rail – Tour de France

Northern Rail wins the coveted ‘Operator of the Year’ for its role in delivering the Tour de France Grand Depart. The operator faced the biggest event its rail network had ever seen in terms of scale, planning and delivery, with over 2.5 million cyclists, tourists and spectators descending on Yorkshire. With several key roads closed for the event, pressure was on the rail network to provide the bulk of transport solutions. At the same time, the event also gave Northern Rail the opportunity to deliver a unique customer experience, engage staff, build awareness of its cycle-rail facilities and create ‘Le Buzz’ for those travelling by rail and cycle. With planning commencing in August 2013 and the theme ‘Taking you to the Tour’ in place, Northern Rail joined forces with Network Rail, BTP and other TOCs, alongside Welcome to Yorkshire and the TdF Hub to devise a masterplan to make the most of this priceless opportunity.

Northern Rail launched an interactive page on its websites and promoted a “Le Yorkshire” rail ticket, which gave visitors unlimited travel around the county for less than £10 per day. The site also shared information on cycling facilities and access to each station around the race route to encourage spectators to get on their bicycles. Members of staff were fully briefed and had a dedicated intranet site packed with resources, briefings and tour maker packs for all volunteers. Staff and volunteers were also encouraged to record and share their own cycle journeys in the lead-up to the event, making sure everybody involved was engaged and inspired.

Northern Rail’s key objective was to deliver a successful event and enjoyable experience for customers, while maintaining its cycling policy of two bikes per train. They also wanted staff to be fully engaged, to meet the needs and wishes of the Northern Rail Cycling Forum and to deliver on revenue targets. The whole project exceeded £350,000 with costs funded by Northern Rail including extra train capacity.

Over the TdF weekend, Northern Rail delivered successfully against its cycling policy through a high-profile communications campaign and Leeds CyclePoint had one of its busiest days since it opened in 2009. Members of staff were fully engaged and Northern Rail provided 150 staff volunteers. The Northern Rail Cycle Forum praised Northern Rail’s success and revenue targets were met. The judging panel sums up the success of the Operator of the Year: “A clear winner.”

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