Rachel Hughes

Rachel Hughes, Director, Surbon Consulting, FCILT

Rachel founded Surbon Consulting in 2013 in the UK expanding to open a Dubai office in 2017.  Her two main areas of focus are:

- Business Development & Procurement Support (including Bid & Contract Management)

- Sustainability (including Social Value)

To date, she has worked on over 40 large-scale transport bids covering a number of different modes:  rail, metro, bus, ferry, cycle hire, electric scooters and autonomous vehicles.  Clients have included public transport operators such as Stagecoach and Serco as well as government and infrastructure operators such as Network Rail. 

She regularly offers pro bono advice to the third sector and helped Sustrans win the Quietways bid to Transport for London in 2014.  More recently, she helped support UAE Oxbridge applicants by interviewing them ahead of Oxbridge interviews in December 2020. She is a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (FCILT) and is a regular speaker at conferences, most recently at Clean Bus Conference in Dubai in Feb 2023.  

In her spare time, Rachel is an avid sportswoman, gaining 3 Blues at Oxford for cycling and winning the Oxford University Sportswoman of the Year in 2007.  She raised over £20,000 ($25,000) for Maggie's Centre in 2017 by swimming the North Channel with her mother.  They became the first ever two-person relay team to swim between Northern Ireland and Scotland, along the way battling the cold, strong tides and the odd jellyfish!  

Years Running Surbon
+ Years Industry Experience
Large Scale Transport Bids
Transport Mobilisations 

14 years of Transport Industry Experience

In the transport industry, working across;

Rail, Metro, Bus, Ferry, Cycle hire, E-Scooter and Autonomous Bus contracts.

Part of Winning Bid Teams

  • Stagecoach's bid for Commonwealth Games Transport (2021)
  • KeolisAmey's £5 billion bid for Wales and Borders network (2018)
  • Serco's bid for Caledonian Sleeper, West Mids Cycle Hire, and Northlink Ferries (2015 -2020)

Delivered a step change in customer experience from the first day of contract.

Experienced Team Leader

Well used to leading teams to deliver results quickly and effectively.

Passionate about delivering tangible results

University of Oxford Graduate 

Member of International Union of Public Transport (UITP)


From Oxford University to founding a consultancy firm with offices in London and Dubai, Rachel has a wealth of varied experience in the transport industry.

Jun 2013 - Current: Director | Surbon Consulting, UK (Business Development, CX & Sustainability Support)

  • Worked on over 20 large-scale transport bids (metro, rail, ferry, cycle hire, electric scooter and autonomous vehicles)
  • Lead on commercial, customer experience and sustainability initiatives to deliver results. 
  • Worked on 5 mobilisations covering heavy rail and bus and coach in UK and metro and tram in the Middle East. 
  • Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Logistics and Transport 
  • Written 2 e-books on how to improve  transport bidding process

Mar 2011 - Jun 2013: Consultant | ADAS (Sustainability Consultancy)

  • Led and won bids for government Department for Climate Change (DECC) and for private sector clients.
  • Co-author of the British Standards Institute (BSI) standard for carbon footprinting cities (PAS 2070).
  • Managed and increased the profitability of multiple projects for Fast moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) clients.

Oct 2009 - Feb 2011: Consultant | Best Foot Forward (Sustainability Consultancy) now part of Anthesis Group

  • Lead researcher on Rail Standards and Safety Board's (RSSB) first ever carbon footprint of the UK railway industry. Engaged with both Train Operating Companies (TOCs), Freight Operating Companies (FOCs) and Network Rail to collect data and present findings.
  • Developed carbon footprints for public and private sector clients to support their sustainability strategies.

2008 - 2009: MSc Carbon Management | Edinburgh Business School, Edinburgh University

  • MSc Carbon Management
  • Inaugural course of its kind in the UK
  • Course covered business, economics and science of carbon management. 

Sep 2007 - Aug 2008: Transport Engineer | WSP Global

  • Graduate Transport Engineer working on transport planning applications and projects for housing and transport in the south east of UK.
  • Developed transport carbon footprint model engaging across the UK business to obtain input from team members.

2007 - 2008: BA (Hons) Geography | University of Oxford

  • Awarded a Mary Allen Scholarship for getting a 1st in Mods (First year exams).
  • Awarded Oxford University Sportswoman of the Year for achievements in cycling and triathlon
  • Received 3 Blues for cycling and Half Blue for triathlon and won 16 British Universities medals for cycling events.