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Abellio London and Surrey - Driver Training

Case Studies

Abellio operates public transport services in Europe, including both bus and rail networks.

Originally founded by the dutch-headquarted Nederlandse Spoorwegen organisation, Abellio first started operating in the UK in 2003. Abellio entered the London bus market in 2009 by taking over Travel London and Travel Surrey Businesses from National Express.

Today, Abellio London & Surrey employ 2,300 staff and operate over 700 buses. Its aim is to provide the best possible service to their customers, providing a professional and reliable service, giving excellent customer service and providing clean, green and modern buses. Abellio London operates 47 routes from 5 depots and Abellio Surrey operates 37 routes in north Surrey.

A key performance indicator (KPI) is driving standards. Ben Wakerley, Operations Director, explains... “When we took over Travel London, we realised straightaway that we needed to improve our reputation as well as reduce collisions and the costs associated with passenger injuries. As a result, over recent years, we have used Transport for London’s (TfL’s) Driver Quality Monitoring (DQM) scoring as a key KPI of our progress.”

TfL’s DQM scoring ranks different bus operators against each other based on a variety of driving and customer service criteria. Initially, Abellio was in last place... but over recent times has achieved 5th best operator for driving standards in London, a dramatic and sustained improvement. This has been achieved through focus on the detail, engagement and training of drivers in new and innovative ways.


  • Undertake driver quality monitoring for over 2,000 drivers over a 2 year period
  • Bus driver-centric training delivered with a ‘common touch’ within a corporate framework
  • Create and deliver innovative workshops, roadshows, train-the-trainer and on-road courses that make a difference
  • Focus on customer service training as well as core driving skills
  • Incentivise Driving Standards Managers at each depot on bus drivers ‘mystery shopping’ scores
  • Focus on ‘meet and greet’ elements of the driving task
  • Treat drivers as adults; educate not punish
  • Direct interaction between AA DriveTech trainers and the drivers to create and undertake new training programmes or events
  • A comprehensive driver safety and service programme backed by the AA.

We established  a  great partnership  approach with  AA  DriveTech. I  feel  I  can  just ring up and talk to the team.  They  are  very  flexible  and  can  build  and deliver innovative training programmes, even within  short  timescales.  We want to train drivers to drive in the way we want them to drive. We’ve now established an excellent level of trust and  delivery  has  been  very  good.  We’re well on course to achieve our ambition to be the best bus company in London! Ben Wakerley, Operations Director, Abellio London and Surrey


  • A significant reduction in collision incidents and resultant costs
  • Number of passenger injuries significantly reduced
  • A programme that has achieved tangible, measureable and independently-verifiable (TfL) results
  • Higher DQM scores are valuable when bidding for new business and routes
  • Drivers are engaged and enjoy their work
  • Consistent with the core values and beliefs of the company
  • Some programmes now adopted by Abellio in the Netherlands

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