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Rachel Hughes of Surbon Consulting expert transport consulting and customer experience management

Rachel Hughes, Director, Surbon Consulting, FCILT

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

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

- Customer Experience

- Sustainability (including Social Value)

To date, she has worked on over 20 large-scale transport bids covering a number of different modes:  rail, metro, bus, ferry, cycle hire, electric scooters and autonomous vehicles.  Clients have included Stagecoach, Keolis, RATP Dev, Serco, MTR, Go-Ahead 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 speaker at conferences, most recently at UITP MENA Congress in Dubai 2022.

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 £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! More recently, Rachel took part in the cold water swimming challenge called Jedi Polar Bear which involved swimming 3 km a month, non wetsuit, in water below 9 C (Celsius) between November 2020 and March 2021. 

Years Running Surbon
+ Years Industry Experience
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 Europe and Middle East, Rachel has a wealth of varied experience in the transport industry.

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

Experienced lead for large-scale transport bids (metro, rail, ferry, cycle hire, electric scooter and autonomous vehicles) focusing on commercial, customer experience and sustainability initiatives to deliver results.

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

Managed the sustainability team and delivered costs and carbon saving to public and private sector clients.

Oct 2009 - Feb 2011: Consultant | Best Foot Forward (Sustainability Consultancy)

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.

Sep 2007 - Aug 2008: Transport Engineer | WSP Global

Led transport carbon footprint model engaging across the UK business to obtain input from team members.

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

Groundbreaking masters which provided a high level of skills and training in the business, economics and science of climate change.

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, and received 3 Blues for cycling and Half Blue for triathlon.