'Keeping the West Moving' - Dawlish Sea Wall & Somerset Flooding Rail Replacement, First Rail Support
Storms in February 2014 caused major damage to the Great Western rail network, particularly the collapse of the Sea Wall at Dawlish, effectively cutting off rail users in Cornwall from the rest of the Country. First Rail Support provided an immediate response utilising the services of many bus and coach operators to bridge the gap and 'Keep the West Moving'. The provision of these services required 166 vehicles a day, to which was added a further 44 to cover for disruption to the rail timetable caused by flood damage between Oxford and Didcot and in the Maidenhead area. A web-based control system was developed which enabled coaches to be tracked in real time, and temporary waiting and refreshment facilities were provided at several sites.
The judges were very impressed by the management and co-ordination involved in such a huge operation, by the response and concern for customers shown by the bus and coach operators who ran the services, and by all the drivers and front-line staff who kept things moving. It was another great example of the teamwork that the industry is capable of deploying to keep things moving. Given the unprecedented size of the area covered, the sheer volume of vehicles used and the network of services set up and operated at very short notice, the judges felt that the operation to Keep the West Moving was eminently worthy of a special commendation.
Supporting the community during the Dawlish rail closure, Stagecoach South West
Following severe overnight storms on 4th-5th February, Dawlish residents woke to find a large section of railway line destroyed, cutting off rail transport links to the rest of the Southwest. In response, Stagecoach introduced a range of measures to support local communities through the immediate crisis and help keep the region 'open for business' during a sustained period of disruption. The measures included: provision of free bus tickets to all families displaced from their homes; acceptance of all valid rail tickets on local bus services services, allowing customers to travel at no additional cost and, at the same time, helping ease the pressure on the rail replacement bus services; substantial reductions in single and return fares across key sections of route; adjustment of ticket zones to reduce weekly travel costs. The company gave a cast-iron commitment that all these measures would last for the duration of the Dawlish closure. The judges were very impressed by the rapid action and the proactive approach, as well as the positive impact it had on both the local community in a time of crisis. Such actions have also helped the long term reputation of the local operator. They therefore recommended that a special commendation should be made.