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Light Rail Awards celebrate global achievements

Ninth annual event welcomes 300 guests from across the industry.

Winners from around the world came together at the ninth running of the Light Rail Awards, supported by First Tram Operations, in London on 7 October. The biggest such event to date, the 2015 ceremony saw recognition of achievements from as far afield as Israel, the USA, Poland, France and Algeria as well as the UK, with around 300 guests in attendance.

The prestigious Manufacturer of the Year honour was given this year to Pesa, a company that has transformed itself from having a purely heavy rail background into one of the most recognised names in light rail. The judging panel praised not only the quality of the firm’s products, but also its success in taking its products beyond its domestic markets. Brookville Equipment Corporation won an accolade for technical innovation for its Liberty streetcar, a new low-floor LRV aimed at the American market. The Liberty is capable of running both on overhead catenary and onboard lithium-ion batteries and was recently put into service in Dallas, Texas.

The Jerusalem Transportation Masterplan Team was recognised in the category for environmental and sustainability initiatives, due to the role of the city’s tramway in reducing air pollution in the city centre by a remarkable 85%.

UK winners included Tramlink Nottingham for delivery of Phase Two of Nottingham Express Transit – a two-line expansion that has more than doubled the size of the system (for a comprehensive review of NET Phase Two see the special publication with this issue).

Sharing the accolade with Nottingham for major projects was Transport for Greater Manchester for the expansion of Metrolink to Manchester Airport – a 14.5km (nine-mile) scheme with 15 stops that included bridging major roads and taking the tramway through environmentally sensitive areas that was delivered under budget and ahead of schedule.

Operator of the Year went to Edinburgh Trams, for a successful debut year that has countered the critics and banished much of the bad feeling left by the delays and cost overruns associated with the tramway’s delivery. Since opening in May 2014, Edinburgh’s light rail line has exceeded both ridership and revenue targets, drawing support from many areas for extensions.

Colas Rail picked up the award for technical innovation in infrastructure, for its ‘Greenway’ track system as used the French ‘budget’ system in Besançon.

The Judges’ Special Award this year was given to Geoffrey Claydon CB, a long-standing and influential tramway advocate and campaigner who is Patron of the Light Rail Transit Association, and a former UK Government legal advisor.

Former UK Under-Secretary of State Norman Baker hosted the evening, held in association with Tramways & Urban Transit.

• Full details of all those honoured at the 2015 Light Rail Awards are given in a special review of the ceremony in December’s issue of TAUT.