Direct Rail Services named RFG’s Business of the Year 2018

The Rail Freight Group (RFG) was delighted to present Direct Rail Services (DRS) with its coveted Business of the Year Award 2018. The award was presented to managing director Debbie Francis and her team at a dinner held on 12 September at the De Vere Latimer Estate Hotel, Chesham.

Each year the Business of the Year Award is presented to the company that the judges consider to be the overall best-performing business in the rail freight sector.

Judges said DRS is a company that has shown excellence in several key areas this year and had “demonstrated a commitment to design and implement exactly the right services for each customer, as well as introducing a very progressive staff development structure.” This had included giving office-based staff the chance to start a new career as train drivers.

DRS has continued to roll out the Class-88 locomotive, the first genuinely bi-modal locomotive in the UK, and judges added that DRS had continually risen to the challenges of meeting unexpected customer demand, “designing innovative solutions and overcoming a wide range of challenges from storms to rail capacity restrictions.”

They said: “Its managing director Debbie Francis is at the forefront of championing the cause of rail freight in the wider business community and the role of women within the rail industry itself. The company shows an outstanding commitment to its customers, employees and the wider community.”

The award was presented by the Awards’ sponsors and presenters on the night John Smith, MD of GB Railfreight (GBRf), and Simon Coppen of Burges Salmon.

Photo by Peter Winterborn, from left to right: John Smith (GB Railfreight), Chris Connelly, Debbie Francis, Sean Kilby (DRS) and Simon Coppen (Burges Salmon).

This was not the only award on the night, DRS worked with Eddie Stobart Limited, to introduce a seasonal train in just two weeks in October 2017 to win the Customer Care Award.

 Photo by Peter Winterborn, from left to right: John Smith (GB Railfreight), Richard Weir (DRS), Ian Wilson (Eddie Stobart) and Simon Coppen (Burges Salmon).

DRS were also runners up of the Community and Environmental Responsibility Award for their efforts with the Open Day, sponsorship and donations fund and volunteering.

 Photo by Peter Winterborn, from left to right: John Smith (GB Railfreight), Sarah Hammond, Sam Dixon, Rachael Storey (DRS) and Simon Coppen (Burges Salmon).

Maggie Simpson, RFG Executive Director, said: “It was fantastic to welcome so many of our members and their guests to help us celebrate the achievements of the sector. Rail freight operators and their partners have been delivering some amazing projects and it’s wonderful to see so much success, collaboration and optimism. It was particularly reassuring to see so many young people being nominated and we hope the awards inspire them to go on to do better and better in their careers. The RFG Awards is all about celebrating the success of those companies delivering new and innovative technology and services – delivering for the communities we work in and marking the huge contributions of the individuals who make it what it is.”

This year’s event was made more special as Tony Berkeley was presented with a special Lifetime Achievement award for his huge contribution not only to the RFG but to the sector as a whole. The Group welcomed Baroness Sugg, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, who gave the after dinner speech, and more than £1200 was raised for the Railway Benefit Fund (RBF), the chosen charity of the RFG Awards Dinner.


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