Tyne and Wear Metro employees are celebrating winning an international award for their response to the pandemic, and efforts to welcome back customers as restrictions ease.
Metro was named winner of the Best Customer Initiative at the prestigious Global Light Rail Awards in London, up against tram and urban transit systems from many countries.
The award recognises the efforts Metro’s teams made to keep customers feeling safe and reassured during the pandemic, and then welcome people back with bold initiatives including its Take The Kids For Free family promise.
Nexus, the public body which runs Metro, won a second prize at the awards for the Best Technical Innovation in Rolling Stock.
The award celebrates the success of Nexus’s biggest ever public consultation, in which 23,000 customers took part in VR-augmented and interactive online activities, becoming part of the train design process to a degree never seen before in the rail industry.
Cllr Carl Johnson, Chair of the Tyne and Wear Sub Committee of the North East Joint Transport Committee, paid tribute to the dedication of Metro’s employees.
He said: “Metro’s employees, like many other public transport staff and key workers, have shown amazing dedication through the last 18 months.
“It is a huge accolade for Metro’s frontline heroes, for Metro itself and our whole region to be recognised at the Global Light Rail Awards alongside cities from across the world.”Chief Operating Officer at Nexus,
Martin Kearney, said: “These two awards are nothing less than the team at Nexus and Metro deserve for the care and commitment they have shown to our customers.
“Customers have come back to Metro faster than on any other UK rail network because they feel happy and confident to travel with us.
“Local people are again making up to 100,000 journeys every day by our clean, green public transport and that is testament to the hard work and innovation of so many people at Nexus over the last year and a half.”
Nexus’ consultation on the interior design for its £362m new trains in autumn 2020 saw 23,000 people take part in a mix of online events, interactive web consultations and VR-augmented live visits focussed on disabled users.
The record consultation was organised with the expertise of train manufacturer Stadler and expert researchers from Newcastle University’s Open Lab digital civics department.
The input of Metro customers shaped significant changes to the final design of new trains, which will enter servicers in 2023, including the addition of more seats and changes to handholds, bike storage and wheelchairs areas.
The Global Light Rail Awards, held in London, marked the second big success of the week for Nexus. On Tuesday is won three Gold awards and one Silver Award at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ North East Pride ceremony.
Nexus was named the winner for Regional Campaign of the Year, Best Use of Content and Best Use of Digital and Social Media. It was runner up in the Best Public Sector Campaign category.