Wednesday 14 Oct 2020
Network Rail worker awarded MBE after training reserve signallers during COVID-19 pandemic
A former Network Rail Operations Manager, based in York, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for coming out of retirement to help train reserve signallers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phil Graham MBE retired in 2014 and returned to the job he loves back in March to help retrain signallers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, he retrained 20 retired or former railway signallers in preparation for any staff shortages, so critical passenger and freight services could continue running safely and reliably.
Phil continues to work for Network Rail, supporting signallers on the Harrogate line where improvements are being made to the signalling system. He is also training new signallers in Darlington.
For the past 34 years, Phil has also given up his own time to run evening classes for people across the rail industry to develop their signalling knowledge. Most of the training this year has been done online rather than face-to-face, giving more people the opportunity to get involved.
Phil said: “I am incredibly proud to have been recognised in this way, and the true reward comes from seeing the progress made by those who I have helped.
“I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to retrain signallers so they are prepared to cover shifts and step into the vital role during these challenging times. Six of them have now joined Network Rail as permanent signalling employees.
"As Network Rail continues to upgrade the signalling system, I hope I can continue doing what I love for years to come.”
Chris Gee, Operations Director for Network Rail, who nominated Phil, said: “I am so pleased Phil has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for all his hard work - he has always selflessly given his own time to improve the knowledge of signallers across the railway industry and this hasn’t changed since he retired from Network Rail in 2014.
“His long history of working to improve railway safety and signalling, and his voluntary work during the coronavirus pandemic makes him highly worthy of this recognition.”
Phil is one of six current Network Rail employees to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, which was published on Saturday 10 October, along with one former employee. Simon Constable, Dave Williams, Gareth Mallion, Chris Conway, Brian Paynter and Nasir Khan have been honoured for their professional and incredible response to the COVID-19 pandemic, valuable work in their communities and a strong dedication to safety and diversity in the rail industry.
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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.