Golden Spanner Awards

Event date


Grand Connaught Rooms
61-65 Great Queen Street
United Kingdom

Golden Spanner Awards

The Golden Spanners is an annual event at which all those interested in railway rolling stock meet to discuss best practice and celebrate excellence in train maintenance. After the lunch Roger Ford hands out the Spanners to honour the most reliable train fleets in the UK.

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spanner-trophyModern Railways Industry and Technology Editor Roger Ford (‘Captain Deltic’ to generations of the magazine’s readers) has for many years assessed the reliability of the nation’s train fleets. In 2005 the 4th Friday Club asked the Cap’n to hand out that archetypal depot tool, a spanner, to the builders, owners and maintainers of the most reliable fleets.

The Golden Spanners is now an annual event at which all those interested in railway rolling stock meet to discuss best practice and celebrate excellence in train maintenance. After lunch and a speech from a key industry figure Roger Ford leads the awards.


HOST: Roger Ford

Industry and Technology Editor of Modern Railways

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Roger is probably best known for his authoritative column ‘Informed Sources’ in the monthly trade and technical magazine Modern Railways. ‘Informed Sources’ is noted for its in-depth analysis of railway technical, commercial and policy issues.

GUEST SPEAKER: Adrian Shooter

Chairman, Vivarail

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Adrian Shooter was Chairman of Chiltern Railways for 17 years, leading the operator through a period of unprecendented growth and expansion in the aftermath of privatisation. His many ongoing railway interests include Vivarail, which is converting former London Underground trains into Class 230s for the main line. He is also Chairman of SLC Rail and SLC Operations, a Vice President of Railfuture and President of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society.


The Golden Spanners awards – in which the trophies feature that archetypal element of train maintenance, a spanner – celebrate the best of rolling stock maintenance and are handed out to those companies making the greatest strides in train reliability, as measured by MTIN (Miles per Technical Incident). The awards are based on moving annual averages at Period 7 (four weeks ending mid October).

The source of the statistics on which the Golden Spanners awards are based is the ReFocus programme run by the Association of Train Operating Companies. This is part of Fleet Challenge, which is responsible for rolling stock performance within the cross-industry National Task Force. This was set up by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in the late 1990s following concerns about punctuality.

Initially called the National Fleet Reliability Improvement Programme (NFRIP), the aim of ReFocus is to encourage the spread of best practice in train maintenance: the Golden Spanners awards are acknowledged as having made a valuable contribution to this aim.


• Ex-BR Inter-city
• First generation new inter-city
• Second generation new inter-city
• First generation new DMU
• First generation new EMU
• Second generation new EMU
• Wild card – a different category every year, decided by Cap’n Deltic

In each category, the Golden Spanner is awarded for the most reliable train based on Miles per Technical Incident (MTIN), the Silver Spanner for most improved (percentage improvement in MTIN), and the Bronze Spanner for fastest incident recovery, based on primary Delay minutes Per Incident (DPI). Each year the Cap’n normally specifies a wild card category as well – such as Pacers or loco-hauled trains.


The Golden Spanner awards are made on the basis of statistical information compiled by the industry and do not require companies to enter.


Tables of 10 at this event cost £1475 +VAT, sponsorship details available on request. Contact Chris Shilling on 07736 635916


  • 12 noon Pre-lunch networking
  • 12.45 Guests enter the Grand Hall for lunch 
  • 14.30 After-lunch speech
  • 14.50 Roger Ford’s Golden Spanners awards
  • 16.00 Close