Category Archives: Prize

2017 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Winner

The TGRG are pleased to announce that the 2017 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize has been won by Philipa Bateman from the School of Geography, University of Nottingham.  The title of her dissertation is Reconnecting the Capital of the Fens: a study of the proposed reopening of the Wisbech-March railway.  Philipa will receive a selection of books to the value of £150 from Edward Elgar Publishing.  We are very pleased to have the continued support from Edward Elgar for this prize.

Reconnecting the Capital of the Fens: a study of the proposed reopening of the Wisbech-March railway

By Philipa Bateman


This dissertation provides a critical ex-ante analysis of the proposed reopening of the Wisbech-March rail link in Fenland, Cambridgeshire, which would subsequently link the deprived town of Wisbech to the burgeoning city of Cambridge. An innovative blend of qualitative research methods is used, not only to gain an insight into the local perceptions of the rail link, and the political rationality, upon which the proposal is based, but also to address the scarcity of qualitative research in transport geography, which the literature appeals for.

Generally, this dissertation finds that the rail link would be a positive move for the town, and will help towards combatting income polarisation in Cambridgeshire. However, further considerations must be made, to ensure it will be socially equitable, and not cause further inequality, as it has been identified that this is very possible. In addition to this, the expert local knowledge, uncovered in this dissertation, has challenged several of the proposed economic and environmental benefits, which suggests the current analytical framework for transport infrastructure proposals is somewhat ineffectual. The politics surrounding the rail link, meanwhile, indicate that the social equity impact is not taking precedence in plans. Rather, this is being overlooked in comparison to other concerns, for example enabling Cambridge to prosper further, by providing a mobility fix to its housing shortage.

This dissertation will provide a useful tool for those involved in the planning process, and it contributes to the existing literature on ex-ante analyses. In light of the current standstill,which the proposal finds itself in, due to various reasons, this dissertation will provide some useful information for those involved in the planning process.


Congratulations to David Smith, the 2016 TGRG Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Winner.

We would like to congratulate David Smith for his achievement in winning the TGRGs best undergraduate dissertation prize.  David recently earned his BA in Geography at the University of Oxford.  For the prize, David will receive books to the value of £150 from Edward Elgar.  His dissertation abstract can be found below.  Comments from the judges include: “This ethnographic study of a Welsh heritage railway is detailed and conceptually ambitious. David demonstrates familiarity with concepts in economic and cultural geography, and blends that with mobilities concepts to develop his concept of ‘working mobilities’ in the context of heritage transport. His thesis is also beautifully written, which helped David’s work to stand out above the other ten candidates, all of whom had undertaken interesting and varied work, demonstrating the breadth of interesting topics and approaches that can be used in modern transport geography.”

“Working Mobilities”: Labours, Movements and Moorings at the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways

This dissertation attends to the different kinds of work that enable mobility to take place. Drawing together ideas from both economic and cultural geography as well as mobilities scholarship, the term ‘working mobilities’ is coined and developed to refer to the labours, practices, performances and personal implications of transport work. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork undertaken over nine weeks at a heritage railway in Snowdonia during the summer of 2015, the analysis is arranged around three main themes: working, moving and mooring, in order to expand on this hitherto overlooked facet of mobilities.

The first, ‘working’, applies Linda McDowell’s scholarship on ‘body work’ into a heritage railway setting, finding it to be a combination of both old and new forms of labour. Physical work is involved in facilitating mobilities on a literal level – shovelling coal and cleaning floors, for instance. Meanwhile, ‘new’ forms of labour are present too – the body itself becomes a performance through helping to produce particular atmospheres. But skills and knowledges are important too – places are comprehended multi-sensually through combinations of official and tacit knowledges, whilst specific skills are learnt, again directly enabling the smooth operation of mass mobility.

Next, ‘moving’ explores the relationship between those working mobilities and the equipment they use. A series of micro-movements by human subjects combine to form significant, meaningful movements on much larger scales, such as those gestures which signal that all is ready for a train to proceed. Meanwhile, the vehicles of mobility themselves hold complex, multi-scalar subjective meanings to those who work mobilities, and even when apparently insignificant, retain the capacity to move us emotionally. One particular example is examined in detail.

Finally, ‘moorings’ examines the importance of the relationships of fixity and movement which exist for railway workers, through three registers; spatially, socially, and temporally. Each of these can only be considered relationally, but each is important in providing structure and meaning to the people who work mobilities, and thus enabling them to carry out their duties. Examples include the importance of stationary, as opposed to mobile staff – for instance signallers – and the depth of attachment that comes about through long-lived connections to forms of mobilities – continuities through the life course.


For more information regarding the undergraduate prize please contact the TGRG secretary, Simon Blainey.

E-bikes? Congratulations to Paul Plazier, TGRG postgraduate prize winner

TGRG would like to congratulate Paul Plazier from the University of Groningen for being awarded first prize in the Transport Geography Research Group postgraduate paper prize for his presentation, The potential of electrically assisted cycling in the everyday commute – a mixed methods approach. The prize is sponsored by Emerald.

The Postgraduate Paper Prize is awarded to the best conference paper presented in a TGRG-sponsored session at the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) Annual Conference.

Paul’s presentation slides and paper abstract are below.

The potential of electrically assisted cycling in the everyday commute – a mixed methods approach
Paul Plazier (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
Gerd Weitkamp (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
Agnes van den Berg (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
E-bike use in the Netherlands is growing fast. When substituting motorized travel, it can play an important role in developing sustainable transport systems. This study assessed travel behavior of e-bike commuters, their motives for e-bike adoption and daily use, and
experiences on the road. We GPS-tracked outdoor movements of 24 e-bike users in the
north of Netherlands for two weeks and used their mapped travel behavior as input for
follow-up in-depth interviews. The majority of the commutes was done by e-bike, altered
with car use. E-bike use was highest in work-related, single-destination journeys. It gave
participants the benefits of conventional cycling over motorized transport (physical, outdoor activity) while mitigating relative disadvantages (longer travel time, increased effort). E-bike commutes took longer compared to other modes, but this was deliberately traded for the experience of cycling. In route choice, participants were inclined to choose enjoyable itineraries over shorter or faster routes. Results support that e-bikes can substitute motorized commuting modes on distances too long to cover by bike, and stress the importance of subjective experience in e-bike commuting. This provides impetus for future actions to encourage commuting by e-bike.

TGRG Undergraduate Dissertation Prize

Entries are invited for the TGRG undergraduate dissertation prize which is awarded to the best undergraduate dissertation that focuses on any aspect of the geography of mobility and transport, undertaken at a UK university, and which demonstrates conceptual and/or methodological sophistication.

The prize is open to any student taking an undergraduate level degree in geography of transport and/or mobility at a UK university, and submitting their dissertation in the current academic year. The prize is open to any currently registered undergraduate student in a UK Department of Geography, Social Sciences, Planning, Transport Studies, Earth Sciences or Environmental Sciences as long as the work undertaken has a geographical element and focuses on a transport-related issue. Only dissertations awarded a first class mark will be considered and departments can submit no more than two dissertations for this prize. Nominated dissertations should not be submitted for consideration for any other RGS-IBG prize.

Dissertations will be evaluated by three members of the TGRG Committee. The successful prize winner will receive £100.

Nominated dissertations should be sent electronically in PDF format (of less than 25MB in size), along with a letter of recommendation and a copy of the appropriate departmental dissertation regulations, by the student’s Department (Head or nominated representative) and with the student’s knowledge. Please send entries and queries to Angela Curl, Secretary of the TGRG,

Deadline: 31st July 2015

Click here for details of last year’s winner.

Postgraduate Prize announced

TGRG is pleased to announce that its 2013 Prize for the best paper presented by a postgraduate student at a session sponsored by the group at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference is awarded to Fariya Sharmeen of the Eindhoven University of Technology. Her paper was entitled “Dynamics of social interaction frequency: Role of Geography and Accessibility”.

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