Golden Whistle Awards

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Date(s) - March 8 2024
All Day

Marriott Grosvenor Square, London

The brainchild of Chartered Institution of Railway Operators luminary (and now MP for West Dorset) Chris Loder, the Golden Whistles event was founded in 2010 to promote best practice and celebrate excellence in railway operations. The annual event now incorporates a morning conference at which railway operators discuss developments aimed at improving operations, followed by a networking lunch and the handing out of the Golden Whistle awards for excellence in railway operating.



HOST: Dick Fearn

Formerly CEO, Irish Rail

Dick Fearn

Dick Fearn has 40 years’ senior management experience in the rail industry in Britain and Ireland. He served for 10 years as COO and then CEO of Iarnród Éireann (Irish Railways). With British Rail from 1973 to 1996, he had a number of rail operations roles, culminating in senior executive posts as the Divisional Director of the Thames & Chiltern Division and later the South Eastern Division of BR’s Network SouthEast. At the time of rail privatisation in the UK, Dick was appointed to the post of Managing Director of The South Eastern Train Company, subsequently moving to Railtrack plc as Zone Director of North West and later Midlands Zones.



Ellie Burrows

Regional Managing Director – Southern Region, Network Rail and Chair, Chartered Institution of Railway Operators

Ellie has been working in the UK rail industry for more than 20 years over which she has gained wide ranging experience across different regions, operators, disciplines and service types. Prior to taking up her current role as Regional Managing Director at Southern, Ellie was Route Director Anglia, where in partnership with train operators she was able to deliver significant improvements in performance and safety and support Elizabeth Line introduction. Ellie has previously worked on the Southern Region, having been both Train Service Director and Deputy Managing Director for Southeastern and Area Director in both the Kent and Sussex Routes.

Ellie is passionate about developing people and skills in rail and is Chair of the Chartered Institute of Railway Operators (CIRO). She is also Chair of the RSSB System Safety Risk Group, bringing the industry together to deliver on the industry ‘Leading Health and Safety on Britain’s Railways’ strategy.


Whistles-TrophiesThe Golden Whistle awards – in which the trophies feature that archetypal element of efficient railway operating, the Acme Thunderer whistle – celebrate the best of railway operating and are handed out to those companies making the greatest strides in punctuality and other key indicators.


• Right time arrivals – Inter-city TOCs. Gold Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. Based on Network Rail moving annual average On Time data to end of Period 9.

• Right time arrivals – London and South East TOCs. Gold Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. Based on Network Rail moving annual average On Time data to end of Period 9.

• Right time arrivals – Regional TOCs. Gold Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. Based on Network Rail moving annual average On Time data to end of Period 9.

• Freight performance – FOCs. Gold Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. Based on ‘A2F’ (Arrival to Fifteen) moving annual average scores of freight operating companies.

• Minimising delay minutes – operators. Gold Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. All passenger and freight operators assessed for reduction in ‘TOC/FOC on self’ delays, moving annual average to end of Period 9.

• Minimising delay minutes – Network Rail Routes. Gold Whistle for best in class, Silver Whistle for most improved. All Routes assessed for delay minutes caused to all operators, moving annual average to end of Period 9.

• London Underground Line performance. All Lines assessed for based on number of services operated to the end of Period 9. Gold Whistle for best in class, Silver for most improved.

• Irish Rail performance. Gold Whistles for right time punctuality and minimising delay minutes across all Irish Rail routes.

• Outstanding Operator/Operating Team. Awards for individuals and operating teams that have gone above and beyond. Gold Whistles for the winners, Silver for the runners-up and Highly Commended certificates for other shortlisted entrants.

• Special Award. Each year the CIRO judging panel chooses an individual or team and awards a Gold Whistle for an operating achievement deemed worthy of special recognition.

• Lifetime Achievement Award. A special award handed out each year to an individual who has made a major contribution to the improvement of railway operations across their career. Entrants in the operating ‘hall of fame’ so far include Chris Green, Chris Gibb and Gordon Pettitt.


Most of the Golden Whistle awards are made on the basis of statistical information compiled by the industry and do not require companies to enter. There is one category for which the winners are selected by a panel of CIRO judges and for which entries are invited:

The Golden Whistle for the Best Individual Operator / Operating Team – awarded each year to an individual or team that has gone above and beyond in its contribution.


Every year Golden Whistles are awarded to outstanding operators. Why not nominate your outstanding operator, or operating team for the next awards?

To submit your entry and for more information, click here. The deadline for entries is 5 January 2024.



09.05 Welcome from the Chair, Glen Merryman

09.10 Rail freight for the 21st century: Tim Shoveller, Chief Executive Officer – UK & Europe, Genesee & Wyoming Inc

09.30 Collaboration to improve performance: John Grainger, Joint Head of Performance, East Coast Partnership

09.50 Luminate Traffic Management: paper from Resonate

10.10 Questions and discussion

10.20 Coffee

10.45 The differences between Operations on HS1 compared to Network Rail: Claire Volding, Head of High Speed Operations, Network Rail High Speed

11.05 Addressing the on-time divide: Ian Smith, Director & Head of Consultancy, Tracsis Transport Consultancy

11.25 Network Rail’s focus on operations: Andrew Haines, Chief Executive, Network Rail

11.45 Questions and discussion


12 noon Pre-lunch drinks

12.45 Guests enter the dining room for lunch

14.30 After-lunch speech from Ellie Burrows

14.50 Dick Fearn presents the Golden Whistle Awards

16.15 Close


Tables of 10 at this event cost £1,700+VAT, sponsorship details available on request. Contact Chris Shilling via email or call on 07736 635916.

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