Entries open for HRA Awards 2024

Railways, rolling stock groups and preservationists up and down the UK will soon be competing for top honours as entries open for the biggest awards in heritage rail.

The Heritage Railway Association Annual Awards, is now open for online entries in 11 categories.

The long-running awards recognise excellence or innovation in almost every aspect of heritage railway and tramway restoration, preservation and operation. Recent winners have ranged from the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway’s 2ft 6in gauge steam locomotive Premier, to the Class 50 Alliance for their work on late-1960s 100mph diesel electric locomotives.

The 2024 HRA Awards Evening and Dinner for finalists will be held in Brighton during February and will feature guest speakers and networking opportunities alongside a three-course meal.

Heritage Railway Association Chair, Peter, Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, said: “The HRA Awards are the biggest and most glamourous event in heritage rail. But behind the glitz and bright lights, they’ve got a really serious purpose that mustn’t be forgotten.

“In our sector, everyone’s so heavily focused on the day-to-day business of running a heritage railway, that we sometimes forget just how special what we do is. It’s important that all of our railways and rolling stock owners celebrate what they do well and highlight the contributions of their staff or volunteers. That’s the main reason the HRA Awards exist, to put a spotlight onto the achievements of this amazing sector.

“They also serve another, slightly more subtle purpose though. By highlighting best-practice in this way it helps to raise standards across the whole heritage railway industry, which is vital too in a world with ever increasing safety, governance, and inclusion expectations.”

This year most HRA Awards categories remain unchanged. The top ‘Railway of the Year’ title is back after being reintroduced for the 2023 event alongside other well-known categories like the Coiley Award for Steam Locomotive Engineering, the Morgan Award for Rolling Stock Preservation and the Lord Faulkner Young Volunteers Award.

Updated for the 2024 awards is the HRA Award for Innovation in Business and Customer Experience. The category has been expanded to encompass work in engaging with customers in new or exciting ways, and excellence in heritage railway events for the first time. Other categories returning for 2024 include awards for ‘Infrastructure’, ‘Team of the Year’, ‘Diesel and Electric Locomotion’, ‘Environmental Innovation’, ‘Rising Stars’ and ‘Marketing and Communications.’

Last year witnessed perhaps the most diverse range of entries the awards has ever enjoyed. Finalists included a number of smaller rolling stock owning groups like HRA Award for Diesel and Electric Locomotion winners Georail Heritage Volunteers Group, who restored an Andrew Barclay 0-6-0DH. In other categories well-established HRA members like the Bluebell Railway and Severn Valley Railway rubbed shoulders with the up-and-coming Hampton and Kempton Waterworks Railway.

Full details of each category and online entry forms can be found here. All HRA member organisations are eligible to enter the HRA Awards. The deadline for entries is 5pm on Monday, November 6, 2023.

Enter the HRA Annual Awards