Coach undergoing retractioning at Wimbledon-Depot


Modern 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. It features a morning conference on rolling stock matters before the lunch and handing out of the Spanners.

spanner trophy

NEXT EVENT: Friday 22 November 2019

VENUE: The Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5DA (nearest Underground station: Holborn)

2019-11-22 09:00:00 2019-11-22 16:00:00 Europe/London Golden Spanner Awards and Morning Conference The Golden Spanner Awards Grand Connaught Rooms, 61 – 65 Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5DA Fourth Friday Club



Roger Ford

Roger Ford

Industry and Technology Editor of Modern Railways

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.


Roger Ford

Graham Neil

Professional Head of Rolling Stock, Transport for London Engineering

Graham has had a long career on the Underground during which he has been responsible for introducing new fleets on the Jubilee and Northern Lines, amongst other roles. He is set to provide an interesting perspective from the capital on the drive to increase rolling stock availability and reliability.


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-British Rail DMU
• New Generation DMU
• Ex-British Rail Inter-city train
• First generation new Inter-city train

• Ex-British Rail EMU
• First generation new EMU
• Second generation new EMU

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 £1400 +VAT, sponsorship details available on request. Contact Chris Shilling on 07736 635916


09.00 Welcome from the Chair, Ian Walmsley

09.05 Rock & Rolling stock – a new financing model, Mike Kean, Chief Operating Officer, Rock Rail 

09.25 Continuous, wireless monitoring of wheelsets and bogies, Justin Southcombe, Commercial Director, Perpetuum

09.45 Fog computing, James Brown, Data and Performance Engineer, Angel Trains   

10.05 Discussion 

10.15 Coffee break 

10.40 Air quality and carbon emissions in rail traction, Richard Cornwell, Team Leader – Engine Performance, and Jonathan Brown, Business Development Manager, Ricardo 

11.00 Reducing emissions from DMUs, Simon Fung, Senior Manager – Innovation & Technical Services, Porterbrook 

11.20 Dual fuel Class 180, Richard McClean, Managing Director, Grand Central 

11.40 Discussion 

11.50 Mobile phone break 

12 noon Real ale bar, sponsored by Houghton International  

12.45 guests enter the Grand Hall for lunch 

14.30 speech from Graham Neil, LU   

14.50 Roger Ford’s Golden Spanners awards 

16.00 close