GNER has puts its position as Britain's favourite rail operator down to investment in its staff and the successful transformation of its HR function.
GNER was voted best overall mainline operator in the rail industry's first national passenger survey in January this year.
HR director Mike Gooddie said even when there had been delays passengers felt positive about their journey because of their treatment by staff.
He said about £5m has been spent on training its 3,000 staff since privatisation in 1996.
The training and development focus is part of a transformation of HR which has seen the department shrink from 100 to 40.
Investment in HR software and cutting back administrative processes has allowed HR to concentrate on providing support and advice to line managers, who have taken on day-to-day HR tasks such as absence management.
"We had a choice to become an ever-shrinking bunch of administrative servants or we could redefine our role. GNER would not have received this accolade if HR hadn't made that change," he said.